Microsoft’s annual developer conference kicks off on Monday, and the company will no doubt have all manner of things to announce for Azure and, if we’re lucky, Windows. To whet our appetites, the company has unveiled a crop of new Azure and Internet-of-Things services with, as we should no doubt expect these days, a focus on machine learning and blockchain.
First up are some new capabilities under the cognitive-services banner. These are the services that are most similar to human cognition: image recognition, speech-to-text, translation, and so on. Microsoft is adding a new category of service that it’s calling “Decision.” In this category are services that make recommendations to aid decision-making. Microsoft is putting some existing services into this category: Content Moderator (which tries to automatically detect offensive or undesirable text, images, and video) and Anomaly Detector (which examines time series data to find outlier or anomalous events). To these, Microsoft is adding Personalizer, which learns about a user’s preferences and makes recommendations accordingly.
Microsoft is also offering previews of its Ink Recognizer (which turns handwriting into machine-readable text) and Form Recognizer, which can extract structured data from hand-filled forms. Cognitive Search, which uses machine learning to enable searching across disparate data types (such as OCR-scanned images, PDFs, and handwritten notes) is being promoted to general availability.