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February 25, 2020

Microsoft AI – Going Strong, Doing More

According to Microsoft, their Project Brainwave deployed on Intel’s Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chip makes real time AI calculations a reality. “Preview of Project Brainwave marks the start of Microsoft’s efforts to bring the power of FPGAs to customers for a variety of purposes”, says Mark Russinovich, CTO for Microsoft Azure cloud computing.

Quoting Microsoft’s The AI Blog:

Project Brainwave is a hardware architecture designed to accelerate real-time AI calculations. The Project Brainwave architecture is deployed on a type of computer chip from Intel called a field programmable gate array, or FPGA, to make real-time AI calculations at competitive cost and with the industry’s lowest latency, or lag time. This is based on internal performance measurements and comparisons to other organizations’ publicly posted information.

Project Brainwave is only one example of how AI could benefit us all, although it’s mainly designed for industrial use. Two Microsoft AI solutions which will benefit end users include Microsoft Sketch2Code and AI based video and audio transcriptions. The transcription feature will be made available to Office 365 and Microsoft 365 users later this year:

Beginning later this year, automated transcription services will be natively available for video and audio files in OneDrive and SharePoint using the same AI technology available in Microsoft Stream. While viewing a video or listening to an audio file, a full transcript (improving both accessibility and search) will show directly in our industry-leading viewer, which supports over 320 different file types. This will help you utilize your personal video and audio assets, as well as collaborate with others to produce your best work.

Preceding quote and image from Microsoft 365 blog. Click image to open it enlarged in a new tab.

Sketch2Code is the Microsoft AI solution I like most. In fact, it is quite easy to see how useful this tool is. I have been playing with it for a few days now and I must say it’s easy to understand and put it to work. Draw a sketch of a webpage or form, upload it to the Sketch2Code website. You will get HTML code back in a few seconds. Here’s a sample image, and the end result generated from it:

Of course, depending on the quality of your sketch the code can miss some minor details.  For example, in my tests I have noticed that Sketch2Code reads my handwritten digit 5 as the letter S. Thus, you really need to check the HTML before using it. Also, if you like me want code to be presented so that it’s properly structured and tabbed, you’ll need to fix the code you get for the tool. The preceding sketch produces this HTML:

AI is here to stay. In my opinion, it will revolutionize the way end users process data and make IT work for us. Microsoft AI already benefits a great number of Azure and Office users. As for the future: Who knows what they have under development now? It should be interesting to wait, watch, and find out.

Also, don’t forget to check the Microsoft AI School, where you can tailor a custom AI course for yourself and your specific situation and needs.



Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

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