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Intel takes a swing at one of AI’s biggest challenges with NCS2

It’s no secret that the secret to AI lies in volume: volume of data, volume of processing power, volume of GPUs. Without significant volume in mission-critical supply areas, neural networks don’t exist, machine learning doesn’t happen and AI doesn’t work. But that can also make it super hard for consumers, even power users at that, to really access and benefit from AI’s onset and advancement. But, if certain tasks are exported to the cloud or miniaturized to the point of usefulness at the consumer scale, some of the biggest impediments to putting real AI to work dissolve, bit by bit. That’s exactly what Intel is trying to do with their new Neural Compute Stick 2, or NCS2.

Edge Devices Get Smart

Edge devices are the name of the game here, as Intel designed the NCS2 to really benefit the smaller yet vital ecosystem of edge devices by bringing AI to the edge instead of the other way around.

As described by Engagdet:

“Edge devices are generally defined as any piece of hardware that controls the flow of data between the boundaries of two networks. These include not just routers, switches and gateways but also a range IoT gadgets like Ring doorbell cameras, industrial robots, smart medical devices or self-guided camera drones. Intel’s NCS2 is essentially a self-contained neural network on a thumbdrive and should make deploying those sorts of devices faster and easier by offloading much of the processing power required to train them to its onboard Movidius Myriad X vision processing unit (VPU).

Internet-connected edge devices are a large and growing part of the modern home more specifically, and the modern digital ecosystem, more generally. Introducing a new and improved, real-deal AI enabler to that market space could be huge for pushing it forward.

What’s it doing now?

Intel chose to pre-release the NCS2 to specific developers to see what kind of magic they could come up with. Some notable examples, per Engadget again, are “Clean Water AI, which combines machine vision with a microscope to detect harmful bacteria in water; BlueScan AI, which scans skin for signs of melanoma; and ASL Classification, which translates American Sign Language into text — all in real-time.”

The best part about the NSC2?

The price tag. For a smooth C-Note, it’s yours. That’s it and that’s all folks.

It’s available through Intel’s distributors, and they’re not restricting who can and can’t buy one. Regardless of whether you’re an AI scientist or an energetic hobbyist, for $100 you can get your hands on an NCS2 — that’s a steal at twice the price! Hahaha.

Seriously though, this platform really does fire me up because if the developer base broadens, (here’s looking at… well… us!), then consumers will most likely see more and better improvements to their existing edge devices and assorted IoT. And that’s a win/win for everyone!


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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