Microsoft is venturing into the development of new hardware as part of the technology giant’s plan to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into every aspect of its business. According to the executive vice president of Microsoft’s AI and Research Group, Harry Shum, “exciting” new hardware developed by the company is now already “on the horizon”.
The comments from Shum followed closely behind announcements from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, which involved a reorganisation within the organisation and the creation of two new engineering teams – the Experiences & Devices group and the Cloud and A.I Platform group. These two departments are led by Rajesh Jha and Jason Zander, respectively. The already existing A.I and Research group will continue to be led by Harry Shum.
As Satya Nadella explained to his employees via an email, the transformations of the company reflect strong progress towards the technology giant’s primary goal of using research for accelerating the adoption of AI into actual products. He also added that from this point onwards, Microsoft plans to further investments into AI research to achieve new breakthroughs.
Following the launch of Microsoft’s AI Research group back in September 2016, approximately 3,000 employees have been added to the initial 5,000-person team. To recap some of the milestones of the company within that timeframe, a bot framework was introduced for the addition of interactive assistants and chatbots to be used together with some of the company’s other tools and services. Moreover, over the past 18 months, Microsoft has successfully enhanced its technology for language translation.
Microsoft is now serving up cognitive services on the Azure platform, such as vision knowledge, speech recognition and various other technologies. The company is also initiating moves of its AI technology designed for business applications to the new A.I Platform and Cloud in view of creating new “dynamic” versions.
The next version of the Microsoft HoloLens is another clear example of the company’s dedication towards creating a portfolio of AI-powered devices. This high-resolution augmented reality device is built based on Microsoft’s custom Holographic Processing Unit, which is powered by an artificially intelligent co-processor to deal with ultimately deep neural networks.
The company is continuously working towards developing superior chipsets that can successfully bring sensors to life, hence intelligently connecting people with other humans and devices. The technology giant is currently facing tough competition in the AI race, especially after other technology giants such as Apple and Huawei have installed superior chips into their smartphones. These include the Bionic chip in the Apple iPhone and the Kirin 970 chip in the Huawei Mate 10, which has a neural processing unit. With these chips, these smartphones are equipped with on-device AI, which does not rely on the cloud for performing its tasks.
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