Google brings image recognition to Android devices

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Smartphones have fast become the new battlefront of artificial intelligence. Algorithms that used to run in the cloud, sending results down to our devices via the internet, are now being replaced by software that runs directly on phones and tablets. Facebook, Apple, and Google are the leaders in the field with Google seemingly taking a clear lead.

The latest example of mobile AI from the Alphabet owned search giant is the release of MobileNets, a set of machine vision neural networks designed to run directly on mobile devices. The networks come in a variety of sizes to fit all sort of devices and can be trained to tackle a number of tasks. The bigger the neural nets, the more powerful processors are needed

MobileNets can be used to analyze faces, detect common objects, geolocate photos, and perform fine recognition tasks, like identifying different species of dogs. These tools are extremely adaptable and could be put to a number of different uses, including powering augmented reality features or creating apps to help the disabled. Google says the performance of each neural network differs from task to task, but overall, its networks either meet or approach set state-of-the-art standards.

 

Google’s new MobileNets can be trained to complete a number of different tasks. For consumers, this is going to mean more mobile apps with AI functions as developers start incorporating these tools to your mobile devices. Running these sort of tasks directly on-device has a number of benefits for everyday users, including faster performance, greater convenience even when you do not have an internet connection. Better privacy will also be achieved as your data isn’t being sent off your device.

 

Apple pushed the latter angle particular when it released CoreML – a set of machine learning APIs for developers- earlier this month. Both Facebook and Google have created their own frameworks for building mobile-first.  Snapchat is working on putting image recognition on your phone, releasing its first academic paper on the subject this week. The next step for mobile AI? Specially designed mobile processors. Both Google and Apple have dropped hints they might be crafting such processors. Meanwhile, ARM has already released a first early batch of the processors.

Both Google and Apple have dropped hints they might be crafting such processors. Meanwhile, ARM has already released a first early batch of the processors.

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Melissa Daniels
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