Microsoft adds APIs to its Azure Cognitive Services for developers

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Microsoft is including more Cognitive Services APIs to its Azure cloud platform in a bid to widen its array of Artificial Intelligence (AI) services.

Azure Cognitive Services is used by developers to add Artificial Intelligence cpabilities such as speech understanding, image identification and search to their apps. The main goal is to help developers create more intelligent applications without any specific skill in machine learning.

The newly added APIs

The Cognitive Services APIs unveiled today include the newly released Text Analytics for Health API, a couple of others that were announced earlier; Form Recogniser Cognitive Services API and the Custom Commands API.

Text Analytics for Health is currently in preview, and it is meant for healthcare providers, researchers and other experts in the health industry to obtain insights and correlations from unstructured medical data. Microsoft said that the new API is basically an enhanced version of the existing Text Analytics API, created to work with medical publications, clinical trials protocols, doctor’s notes, and electronic health records.

The Custom Commands API is an improved capability within Azure’s Speech Recognition Service that developers can add voice commands in their apps. In a statement, Microsoft said it works best for applications with well-defined sets of variables, e.g. smart home thermostats. It incorporates a couple of existing APIs, including Language Understanding, Text to Speech, and Speech to Text.

And then there is the Form Recogniser API. This helps developers to extract data faster from huge volumes of unstructured docs.

“Documents are prevalent and often contain vital information that is essential to drive business outcomes; however, extracting data quickly and accurately for processing is often a challenge for so many organizations,” Azure AI managers Neta Haiby and Prachi Jain wrote in a blog post. “Manual extraction can take up long processing cycles, cause errors and inefficiencies. Hence, extracting text and structure from documents with Form Recognizer helps tackle these challenges swiftly and boost productivity.”