Microsoft developers cheered on Thursday when the company unveiled its latest image-recognition technology, which is coming soon to Windows 10 devices. The moment underscored Microsoft's investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and its determination to keep up with Alphabet and Apple.
Using the new Story Remix app -- which is meant to replace the standard-issue Windows 10 Photos app -- Microsoft executive Lorraine Bardeen showed how users can add animations on top of videos that then move along with the action. She selected a video of a girl dribbling a soccer ball and then superimposed a fireball on top of the soccer ball as it was sailing toward the net.
In addition to editing videos, the app will let people search for photos and videos based on the people, places and videos they contain -- just like the Google Photos app that came out in 2015 and Apple's most recent Photos app from last year. Microsoft began working on the app a year and a half ago.
"What you're basically seeing is everyone in the industry is taking advantage of deep learning and how it's revolutionizing how we build products," said Chris Pratley, a Microsoft corporate vice president, in an interview. Deep learning is a type of AI that involves training computers on data such as photos and allowing the computers to make inferences about new data.
The app relies on several Microsoft technologies. For one thing, it uses the Cognitive Toolkit open-source framework for deep learning. Microsoft trained the system on a shared cluster of graphical processing units (GPUs) in its Azure cloud, and it looked to the company's research group for technology that can recognize and then follow objects in videos.