Azure Cognitive Services APIs

Continuing our Microsoft Azure Cognitive blog series (you can find Part I here), we started with defining “Artificial intelligence” and then provided some insights about the adoption of AI in organizations, before going to the main focus, which is the Azure Cognitive Services.  These services are advantageous for developers as they can achieve more with less effort.

Search and lookup are an integral part of our day to day routine. It is normal for us to look for something online without even realizing it.  We use search options everywhere on the internet but not all searches are the same, as the context, data and the environment can change the search that we are performing.

The Bing Search APIs let you build web-connected apps and services that find webpages, images, news, locations, and more without advertisements.

The following list shows the Azure Search APIs and describes some of them:

  • Bing News Search
  • Bing Video Search
  • Bing Web Search
  • Bing Autosuggest
  • Bing Custom Search
  • Bing Entity Search
  • Bing Image Search
  • Bing Visual Search
  • Bing Local Business Search
  • Bing Spell Check

Bing News Search

In a world where how you show up on search is key to how you are perceived, reputation management has become a function of monitoring and analyzing what your customers are saying about you online and in person.  Bing News Search can serve as a powerful data provider to help you track and manage public sentiment about you, as an organization, or as a brand.  A Bing News Search pointed at a company’s own name can populate an internal dashboard with new or trending news content regarding that group. Bing News Search API provides you with a similar experience to that of Bing News. It ships with several endpoints that help you find and surface relevant news articles based on your queries.

Bing Autosuggest API

The Bing Autosuggest API can be very handy to improve any search experience. The Bing Autosuggest API returns a list of suggested queries based on the partial query string in the search box.  As characters are entered into the search box, you can display suggestions in a drop-down list.  The Autosuggest API uses JSON format for data exchange, and API Keys for authentication.

Decision APIs

Human beings are making decisions all the time; such as where to go first, what to eat, etc. Nowadays, organizations are trying to solve large-scale issues, such as the weather, the traffic in metropolis, organize flight itineraries, cybersecurity, health care, to name just a few of them.  Currently, there are systems that help us in complex tasks such as those mentioned above.  Some of these systems have Decision APIs embed. The following list shows the Azure Decision APIs and describes some of them:

  • Anomaly Detector
  • Content Moderator
  • Personalizer

The Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services Anomaly Detector API allows developers to embed anomaly detection capabilities into their applications.  This allows problems to be quickly identified to minimize their impact on end-users. Anomaly Detector API enables you to monitor and detect abnormalities in your time series data with machine learning. Using your time-series data, the API determines boundaries for anomaly detection, expected values, and which data points are anomalies.  The detection model returns anomaly results along with each data point’s expected value, and the upper and lower anomaly detection boundaries.  You can use these values to visualize the range of normal values, and anomalies in the data.

Moderation APIs

Powered by intelligent machine learning, Microsoft Content Moderator automatically filters out offensive content in images, text, and videos across platforms and includes human review tools for some cases.  The Content Moderator service includes Moderation APIs, which check content for material that is potentially inappropriate or objectionable.  The Content Moderator service also includes the web-based Review tool, which hosts the content reviews for human moderators to process.

The price of cognitive services depends on the selected APIs. Every API is priced differently by a certain number of transactions. Additionally, Microsoft guarantees that Cognitive Services running in the standard tier will be available at least 99.9 percent of the time.

It is good to know that Azure Cognitive services could be used via Docker containers.  Container support is currently available for a subset of Azure Cognitive Services, including parts of Anomaly Detector, Computer Vision, Face, Form Recognizer, Language Understanding (LUIS), Speech Service API, Text Analytics.

In general, we can say that using AI provides advantages for productivity, faster learning, security, healthcare and more. Now is the perfect moment to start learning and understanding these technologies and then implement them in the organizations.

Remember, AI is a business strategy, not just a technical initiative.

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