An Introduction to Azure Cognitive Service:
In today’s world, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are transforming every walk of life, these are technologies that enable people to rethink how we integrate information, analyze data, and use the result for better decision-making.
So, let’s start with the question, what exactly are Azure Cognitive Services?
To learn this better, we need to understand what Cognitive services are.
Let’s say you are an application developer and want to develop an application that can take an image as input and identify human faces, display the gender and also identify pet faces, if there are any, in that image. To accomplish this, you need to have a certain level of expertise in Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and a programming language like Python or R. This sounds difficult and quite time-consuming, right?
Now imagine if you can do all these without any prior knowledge of ML, DL, or python. Wouldn’t that be Great!?
By using Azure Cognitive Services, we can do all this and much more.
Azure Cognitive Services:
Azure Cognitive Services are cloud-based services with a set of REST APIs and toolkits that will help the developer with no prior knowledge of AI and Data Science to add a cognitive feature in their application.
These services also eliminate the need for labeled training data that is required to train our ML and AI model before start working on the problem, this helps us to save time and stay focused on fixing problems as soon as they surface.
For our above example, Custom Vision is the service that needs to be used.
All you have to do is just give an API call from your application to the Custom Vision API in Azure, and the rest of the work is handled by Azure.
Recognizing faces that you have used for your application is just the tip of the iceberg. Custom Vision also offers features like predicting attribute features from human images, such as age, gender, pose, smile, facial hair, emotions, etc.
Custom Vision is just a small part of the Vision Cognitive services that Azure provides. Azure has many such services related to Speech, Language, Search, and Decision.
All these services collectively are categorized into Azure Cognitive Services.
Types of Azure Cognitive Services:
These services can be used across all programming platforms and help introduce AI functionality into a wide range of applications with minimal coding effort.
Developers can integrate their software with the ability to hear, understand, speak, see and make decisions using these APIs.
Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services is one of the most effective and highly used services of its kind.
Azure Cognitive services provide the following five types of services:
Let’s look at each of these separately.
Microsoft Azure’s Vision services can analyze visual content like images, GIFs, and videos to identify objects within it. They can enable apps to detect and group faces or objects based on distinct characteristics. Vision services include the following:
- Computer Vision: This service is used to recognize text, tag, categorize images and generate descriptions.
- Custom Vision: This service helps detect human faces in an image and to predicts features such as age, gender, smile, pose facial hair, and emotions.
- Form Recognizer: This service helps extract information from documents.
- Video Indexer: This service identifies visual content in videos, extracts audio, interprets text, analyzes sentiment, searches images and events in a video, and then indexes this information.
Speech services are used to enable speech processing in apps where speech can be converted to text and vice versa while also translating text to other languages and identifying speakers.
Speech services include the following:
- Text to Speech and Speech to Text: This service translates audio to text and vice versa with support for more than 80 languages.
- Speech Translation: This service helps in translating real-time conversations.
- Speaker Recognition: This service can be used as a means of access control and authentication as it helps in identifying speakers.
Language services are used to analyze text to extract meaning from it.
Language services include the following:
- Immersive Reader: This can be used to extract meaning from text.
- Language Understanding: This makes apps, smart devices, and bots learn and understand the natural language of users.
- Text Analytics: This helps analyze text to detect sentiment and key phrases.
- Translator: It can conduct real-time machine translation with multiple languages support.
Decision APIs analyze data and plot patterns to perform faster, precise, and more efficient decision-making.
These include the following:
- Anomaly Detector: Predicts problems before they occur.
- Content Moderator: Reviews text, videos, and images
Web search APIs enhance our searching experience on the World Wide Web. These include Bing Autosuggest, Bing Custom Search, Bing Entity Search, Bing Image Search, Bing News Search, Bing Spell Check, Bing Video Search, Bing Visual Search, and Bing Web Search.
- Bing News Search: Provides ad-free news search results from a search query to Bing News. It can also use to look into the trending topics on the internet.
- Bing Web Search: Provides results that are location-based, ad-free, and safe. They may include an image, video, web page, or news.
- Bing Visual Search: It helps the user in the Identification of similar images and products, Web source identification, and Knowledge acquisition from images.
- Bing Video Search: This is a video search engine that gives Ad-Free Video search results from Bing Videos as well as also provides video topic and trend identification.
- Bing Entity Search: This API mainly returns local results with named entities or classification like popular persons, hotels, restaurants, and more.
- With the help of these services, we can automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks so that we can use our time to focus on activities of productive value.
- Language analysis APIs can be used to use to detect the sentiment of text and can be used by the support team to better understand the tickets generated by customers.
- Virtual assistants using natural language processing and machine learning to receive and interpret voice commands and operate smart home devices.
- With the use of voice recognition and face recognition APIs, these can be used for authentication, we can make our apps and organization more secure.
- Chatbots creation for our products can be made easy using Azure cognitive services.
- Recommendation engines used by eCommerce, entertainment websites that suggest relevant products, movies, and series based on our recent search queries or purchases can be made better using these services.
The Azure cognitive services are a very useful set of REST APIs and toolkits that can help the developer to develop smart and intelligent apps. With these, we can create systems with human capabilities that can see, hear, speak and understand people in their natural language and use the same communication method to relate to them. Using the cognitive services, we can not only use it for development purposes but for other fields like making the app more secure, providing better customer support, and much more.
Azure Cognitive Services are quite useful in themselves, they provide a very promising platform for the future. Anyone with basic knowledge of programming and APIs calls can use these to enhance and expand different applications, they are only bound by their creativity.
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