Microsoft Announces Azure Percept, a Pilot-Ready "Complete Edge AI Platform"

Launching with pre-built models and a no-code model generator, Azure Percept aims to put secure AI firmly at the edge of everywhere.

Microsoft has announced the launch, in public "pilot-ready" preview, of Azure Percept, a new edge AI platform combining certified hardware and software services to bring artificial intelligence to as wide a market as possible.

"With Azure Percept, we have simplified AI on the edge from silicon to service," claims Microsoft's Roanne Sones of the new platform, announced today at the company's Ignite conference. "You can start prototyping in minutes, getting real-time edge AI insights for quick decision-making and analytics when and where the action occurs to help speed the development of your solution."

"Azure Percept focuses on extending AI to the edge with a single, end-to-end platform. We integrated hardware accelerators with Azure AI and Azure IoT services and designed them to be simple to use and ready to go with minimal setup. We also designed Azure Percept in accordance with Microsoft responsible AI principles to help ensure all of these services are streamlined to create edge AI solutions that can adapt to customers’ needs—while helping ensure customers’ trust as the edge evolves."

The Azure Percept platform includes a hardware developer's kit, provided for the launch by ASUS and taking the form of a carrier board, mounting tools, and a camera-enabled system-on-module dubbed Azure Percept Vision, and an optional audio accelerator with four-microphone array logically called Azure Percept Audio.

The software side, meanwhile, is claimed to be accessible to "developers of all skill levels" thanks to a library of pre-built Azure AI models and a no-code model builder for custom work. "Azure Percept works out-of-the-box with Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Live Video Analytics, and other Azure services," Sones continues, "to deliver vision and audio insights in real-time."

"There’s also a 'getting started' experience called Azure Percept Studio that guides customers with or without a lot of coding expertise or experience through the entire AI lifecycle, including developing, training and deploying proof-of-concept ideas," adds Microsoft's John Roach. "For example, a company may want to set up a system to automatically identify irregular produce on a production line so workers can pull those items off before shipping."

The Azure Percept DK is now available to pre-order, with more information available on the official website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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