I've been telling you about how Microsoft is experiencing explosive growth in its data science and analytics feature set (www.dbta.com/Editorial/Think-About-It/ Microsoft-on-the-Ascent-in-Business-Intelligence-and- Data-Science-110196.aspx). I have also covered important new feature sets such as Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and advancements in self-service BI using Microsoft PowerBI. Despite all of these new and very useful tools, the rapid growth shows no signs of slowing. Let’s look at some additional new features in this space.
Microsoft Cognitive Services: Language, Computer Vision, and Academic Knowledge APIs
One of the great promises of AI is contextual processing that come naturally to humans, such as understanding visual input and natural language. You can now get in on the new previews from Microsoft to accomplish these goals. The Computer Vision API and Academic Knowledge API are available as standalone services with public preview pricing effective as of Aug. 4, 2016. Learn more about these APIs at https://azure. microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-services.
Microsoft Cognitive Services is a collection of APIs that enable developers to tap into high-quality vision, speech, language, knowledge, and search technologies—developed through decades of Microsoft research—to build intelligent apps. The following APIs are now available:
• Language API facilitates processing of spoken language, sentiment analysis, and much more in
your applications. You can use it to teach your apps to understand commands from your users and to evaluate sentiment and topics that your users want, and even the predictive language models you’re used to with popular web-scale apps.
• Computer Vision API gives you the tools to understand the contents and context of any image. Create tags identifying objects, beings, or actions in the image and craft sentences to describe it. With Computer Vision API, you can even do things such as detect and analyze faces or include emotion recognition in your apps.
• Academic Knowledge API helps tap a wealth of academic content by applying the Knowledge Exploration Service to the Microsoft Academic Graph. Users can start from natural language queries or ping the graph directly through structured query expressions to explore relationships among academic papers, journals, and authors. The Entity Linking Intelligence Service enables contextual extension of knowledge about people, locations, and events. In addition, the Knowledge API provides a Recommendation API so you can predict and recommend items your customers might want to know about within your app.
But Wait, There’s More!
Other neat features are also available which build upon the Microsoft Cognitive Services APIs:
Bot Framework: Bots are getting a lot of hype these days. Use the Bot Framework to build and connect intelligent bots that interact with your users naturally wherever they are, from text/sms to Skype, Slack, Office 365 mail, Twitter, and other popular services.
Computational Network Toolkit (CNTK): CNTK provides a high-performance, deep learning network toolkit to enable automatic speech recognition, image recognition and captioning, text processing and relevance, language understanding and modelling, and more.
Content Moderator: This is cool. The Content Moderator service proactively alerts you of content policy violations.
Multiworld Testing Decision Service: This feature powers your application with intelligent decisions, such as personalizing an application user interface that adapts to user behavior.
Get ’Em While They’re Hot!
The full feature set is currently in public preview. That means you should start playing with them now, so that you can provide input into their interface and feature set. (Note, however, that “public preview” does not mean that it’s free of charge).
To learn more, read the blog at https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/machinelearning and review the documentation at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/ cognitive-services.