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September 22, 2020

Microsoft Launches Spatial Analytics, Other AI Services at Ignite

Alex Woodie

Microsoft Spatial Analytics

Microsoft rolled out an array of new AI services during its Ignite conference today, including Spatial Analysis, a new offering that uses computer vision algorithms to detect and count the number of people in a room.

Spatial Analysis, which is part of the Microsoft Azure Cognitive Service offering, can combine images from multiple cameras to count the number of people in a room. It can also understand the distances between them (handy for social distancing in the COVID-19 era), and figure out how long they’re waiting in line or standing in front of displays.

The technology has already been rolled out at RXR, a real estate company based in New York City that has embedded spatial analysis in its RxWell app to ensure occupants’ safety and wellness.

“When it came to developing RxWell, there was simply no other company that had the capability and the infrastructure to meet our comprehensive data, analytics, and security needs than Microsoft,” RXR CEO Scott Rechler says in a press release.

Another new component of Azure Cognitive Services unveiled today Metrics Advisor, which is designed to keep a watchful real-time eye on various organizational metrics, from sales revenue to manufacturing operations, the company says.

Metrics Advisor uses an anomaly detection engine to find unusual activity buried in time-series data, such as call logs. It can detect anomalies in complex data sets with up to 1 million dimensions, and even fill in gaps in data, all without requiring expertise in data science, Microsoft claims.

When problems are found, Metrics Advisor applies root-cause analysis to find the cause, and automatically sends out an alert to humans. The offering, which would appear to compete with Elastic and Splunk, is free to using during the trial period, Microsoft says.

Microsoft Metrics Advisor analyzes time-series data

The company is also bolstering Azure Machine Learning, its hosted environment for allowing data scientist and others to create their own machine learning models. A new designer allows users to perform data preparation, model training, and evaluation tasks in a drag-and-drop manner, the company says, while a new automated assistant will make labeling easier.

The company has rolled out a preview of the Photon-powered Delta Engine, which accelerates the performance of Spark application through three components, including an improved query optimizer; a caching layer that sits between the execution layer and the cloud object storage; and a native vectorized execution engine that’s written in C++.

“These improvements make Azure Databricks 20x faster than Open Source Apache Spark,” the company says.

Microsoft made several database enhancements, including previews for Azure SQL around expansion of zone redundancy; a new flexible deployment option for Azure versions of PostgreSQL and MySQL; a serverless option for Cosmos DB; and the addition of several Redis modles, including RediSerach, RedisBloom, and RedisTimeSeries.

On the bot front, the company has rolled out the Bot Framework Composer, which Microsoft says is an open source tool for visual bot development that’s available on GitHub. It also enhanced how bots work with Power Virtual Agents and the Azure Bot Service.

Microsoft made a slew of other announcements at Ignite, which

runs through Thursday.

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