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3 Interesting Things You Can Do with Microsoft Cognitive Services

By Nick Epson on September 9, 2020

At Blue Label Labs, we are a Microsoft shop in the sense that we use a lot of their tools to build and support software. One of the main platforms we’ve been using as of recent times is Microsoft Cognitive Services as it allows us to build intelligent solutions for mobile and otherwise.

Our services are evolving due in part to the breadth of new tools that are becoming available that coincide with market demand. Everything from natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision which allows businesses to analyze images with AI are becoming staples for modern applications. The fact that some 73% percent of apps are now using voice control features backed by API makes understanding what Microsoft Cognitive Services crucial for developers and businesses looking to develop apps or augment existing software.

So let’s take a look at some of the interesting things you can do with Microsoft Cognitive Services.

The 3 Interesting things you can do with Microsoft Cognitive Services

The following services are key components of the platform used to build intelligent platforms.

Speech and speech-to-text (STT). Perhaps one of the most prominent features of Microsoft Cognitive Services is the speech feature. Developers can integrate this service into their software to recognize speech which opens the door for multiple capabilities.

One example is where this comes in handy is when building chatbots for everything from customer service in eCommerce to virtual assistants in the healthcare field. It is possible to build conversational workflows that allow these systems to answer questions to voice prompts integrated into an application.

In customer service, this is useful when resolving issues when something goes awry. Say a customer receives the wrong item for an order – the chatbot can be configured to handles the conversation from start to resolution (usually) by being able to reference an order number and then work through the process of issuing a return label and shipping a new product.

In the healthcare field, virtual assistants can be configured to handle conversation flows to carry out tasks such as scheduling appointments or refilling prescriptions. Too, healthcare assistants can be configured to complete new patient intakes purely by voice. Data from the conversation is used to populate the database in an EMR system by using information collected during a conversation. Developers can even opt to use the prebuilt Microsoft Healthcare Bot which enables quick configuration by using existing workflows embedded in the solution

In both cases, voice data collected can – and should be – transcribed into text. This makes retaining conversations useful for analytics as well as record retention should an administrator need to manually review a conversation whether for auditing or when resolving more complex issues.

You can test-drive this portion of the Microsoft Cognitive Services STT by using this simple app found here.

Content moderation. If you’re building something along the lines of a forum like Reddit or you have a blog that gets a lot of traffic, Microsoft Cognitive Services can be used to automatically parse comments made by users. Searching for simple words is (and has been) a relatively simple task for software for decades but someone doesn’t have to use an f-bomb to be inappropriate.

Let’s say you’re building a forum for people to research and share information for a certain medical condition. The platform is intended to be supportive and ideally, PG-rated for users to share their experiences and offer supportive words. Malicious users and bots could theoretically create disruptive accounts that may not otherwise be flagged without manual reporting or the review of a human eye.

The Microsoft Cognitive Services Content Moderator can use NLP to analyze commentary to detect tone and sentiment which is central to moderating sensitive subject matter. It can also use the computer vision portion of the platform to detect inappropriate images that may be shared by users and automatically flag for breach of ToS.

Analyze images with computer vision. Another useful feature of Microsoft Cognitive Services is the ability to analyze images with computer vision which has applications across a broad spectrum of industries.

In the medical field, imaging is used in a variety of technologies from CAT scans, X-rays, and MRIs to detect problems. These images require a significant amount of training for a human to recognize issues due to the complexity of the human body and the numerous conditions it can experience. Image analysis via computer vision can assess images at a granular level to pinpoint certain areas that might not be visible to the human eye or identify minute details that can be overlooked by even the most seasoned professional.

This technology has applications in other industries such as manufacturing. For example, in the boxing industry, sophisticated corrugators cut and press massive construction-paper-like reels to make cardboard. These machines are comprised of many moving parts and are often a little longer than a football field! Maintaining such machines requires a vast knowledge of the various parts used to construct them – even adept engineers and maintenance techs (especially those early in their career) can run into pieces that they’re not immediately familiar with.

By documenting parts with various pictures and storing them in a database, support teams can more easily identify parts when cross-referencing an image taken in the field. This is particularly useful when diagnosing strange issues and identifying parts that might not be immediately recognizable. Too, computer vision could be used to identify more concise information such as wear-and-tear by referencing an image of a potential worn part against the image of a fresh item.

Computer vision also has applications in eCommerce. Think if you’ve ever been online trying to find a part for “something” you’re attempting to fix yourself for the first time – for the sake of this argument, let’s say it’s a water heater thermostat. The DIYer that’s not an experienced handyman can often run into dead ends. However, if the manufacturer implemented computer vision backed by a database of images along with an in-site image search, it would be much easier to both identify and purchase the required part to complete the project.

Blue Label Labs builds sophisticate software using Microsoft Cognitive Services

Our agency welcomes opportunities for blue-sky thinking – we use all the tools at our disposal to pull grandeur ideas back to Earth to create viable products for digital marketplaces. Today, AI is highly accessible, thanks to platforms like Microsoft Cognitive Services which enable us to build intelligent solutions like the examples we provided here. Please, reach out to us to learn more about our development process and vast experience with ML and AI.

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