Introduction to Azure Cognitive Services

10 September 2021 at 10:00 by ParTech Media - Post a comment

Modern IT society is making the most out of cognitive computing services, be it optimizing processes, enhancing end-user interactions, or handling analytics. Similarly, cognitive computing is continuing to make a staggering impact across an array of industries.

However, most of the companies are not yet exposed to the world of rich data science, and implementing disruptive technologies such as AI and ML is still a far cry. Also hiring skilled data scientists as part of the workforce gobbles up much of the capital costs.

But with cognitive computing services, it is possible to harness the power of disruptive technologies into your application without worrying about resources or costs. It helps in building sophisticated applications effortlessly that appeases your end-users.

Cognitive computing uses cutting-edge technologies such as AI, ML, signal processing, neural networks, virtual reality, and a lot more to simulate how people think. It is mainly used for automation and minimizing manual work.

In this post, we will understand one of the most popular services in the field of AI and cognition viz. Azure Cognitive Services.

Table of Contents

  1. What is cognition?
  2. What are Azure Cognitive Services?
  3. Five wingmen of Azure Cognitive Services?
  4. Why Azure Cognitive Services?
  5. Winding Up

What is cognition?

Cognition is the action of gathering knowledge and insights through experience and rational thinking like humans. Let us consider a simple example. Here is a random picture -

From the above image, we can gather the following details

  1. There is a cup and a laptop
  2. The laptop is a MacBook
  3. The person using the Macbook is a developer.

Based on the image, we have just built a cognition to describe the image details. To build cognition for specific tasks, large corporations are pumping gazillions of capital into cognitive computing. Out of this, Microsoft itself invested about $1 billion in AI technologies through its Azure platform to accelerate the growth of cognitive services. With such staggering investments, Azure is now setting milestones in AI and ML using Azure Cognitive Services. Let us understand more about it.

What are Azure Cognitive Services?

Azure Cognitive Services bring AI within the proximity of developers, without any machine learning expertise required. Azure Cognitive Services are typically API’s, SDKs, and services that enable developers to build intelligent AI and ML applications.

For example, with Azure Cognitive Services, you can generate e-commerce experiences with a tinge of human touch. It will empower your application to spot anomalies in your system in real-time. This means you can deploy AI at the drop of a hat and that too - where you need it the most.

The Cognitive Services library allows you to add pre-built templates that have the ability to respond, hear and understand end-users and even make decisions on their own.

Five pillars of Azure Cognitive Services

Azure Cognitive Services comes with over 30 APIs classified under the following categories -

  1. Vision APIs - Helps your product understand and analyze content from images, videos, and other digital modes (even from meta descriptions). It includes the following services -
  • Computer Vision - It is an AI technology generally used to analyze content in images.
  • Face - It is a face recognition API used in identifying faces and emotions from an image.
  • Form Recognizer - This service is used to gauge information from forms and documents.
  1. Decision APIs - helps in making the right decision by identifying possible outcomes, detecting anomalies in the system, and even moderating content to be displayed. It includes the following services -
  • Anomaly Detection - This service is instrumental in detecting anomalies in your application even before they occur.
  • Content Moderator - Used as a moderating tool for text, images, and videos in your application. Used to review the authenticity of content in your application.
  1. Speech APIs - Integrates voice commands(speech processing) into apps. It includes the following services-
  • Speech Translation - Used for embedding speech processing features in your application.
  • Speech Recognition - Used to identify the context of communicated speech and identify the speaker.
  1. Language APIs - Leverages NLP(Natural language processing) to identify different languages, infuses text analytics, and develops chatbots with cognitive abilities. It includes the following services -
  • Text Analytics - Used to analyze sentiments of a text and identify the context.
  • Translator - This service can be embedded into your application to translate content to different languages. Currently, it supports translation to 60 languages.
  • QnA Builder - AI service to create conversational questions and answer like chat support. Usually incorporated in chatbot building applications.
  1. Search APIs - Creates, manages indexes, and loads data at faster rates, providing a rich search experience over user-owned content in your application. It includes the following services -
  • Bing World Search - Used for searching images on the world wide web. You can also add this service to upload and search images in your application.
  • Bing Autosuggest - This autocomplete feature is capable of generating possible queries and autosuggestions backed by IntelliSense support.
  • Bing Spell Check - Used as a spell check feature and also assists in correcting errors, understanding homophones, and differentiating between names and brands.

Why Azure Cognitive Services?

  1. Easy adoption and minimal development efforts
  2. Cross-platform support is available in different OS platforms.
  3. Provides a rich user experience. Services like content moderator can help provide tailor-made content to the end-user, building meaningful customer relationships.
  4. Extracts deeper insights quickly that enables one to get a good grasp over any application.
  5. Accelerates productivity by imbibing efficiency,
  6. Strong data security. Owing to strong Azure cloud infrastructure, services that have over 70 certifications, and several virtual network support, Azure Cognitive Services offers strong data security to your applications.
  7. It also provides containers for deploying applications in the cloud or on-premises.
  8. Azure Cognitive Services do not require payments for all the services at once. Instead, they have a pay-as-you-go model helping the people even more.

Winding Up

Azure cognitive services are undoubtedly empowering organizations that are not yet digitally transformed to harness the potential of disruptive technologies like AI, ML, and computer vision. In the years to come, it will be used in the development of mainstream applications. With demand for cloud functionalities and services across the IT sector on the rise, there is no doubt that Azure Cognitive Services will continue to exert its influence in all organizations, especially startups and smaller firms due to its cost-effective approach of implementing disruptive technologies.