Google Eyes Smartphones that Can Recognize Faces

In the not-too-distant future, today's "smartphone" could look pretty dumb. At least if Google and its new partner, Movidius, a maker of processors for "low-power machine vision," have anything to say about it.

Under the partnership announced yesterday, the companies will work together to advance Google's vision of mobile devices with deep-learning capabilities. That means that the silicon-based smarts currently seen on cognitive computers like IBM's Watson could one day reside on the phone in a user's pocket.

Under the agreement, Google plans to bring the neural computation engine it currently runs on its own servers to Movidius' chip platform, which could eventually enable machine-learning capabilities on local, mobile devices. In exchange for using the San Mateo, California-based chipmaker's processors and software development environment, Google said it will "contribute to Movidius' neural network technology roadmap."

'Machine Intelligence on Personal Devices'

One possible outcome of Google's collaboration with Movidius is a future of truly smart smartphones that could, for example, recognize faces and other images on sight and understand the meaning of different audio inputs like human speech. Google researchers have already helped advance the capabilities of the company's own servers to dramatically reduce transcription errors in its Google Voice and Project Fi phone services, for instance.

"What Google has been able to achieve with neural networks is providing us with the building blocks for machine intelligence, laying the groundwork for the next decade of how technology will enhance the way people interact with the world," said Blaise AgĻ‹era y Arcas, who heads Google's machine intelligence group. "By working with Movidius, we're able to expand this technology beyond the data center and out into the real world, giving people the benefits of machine intelligence on their personal devices."

In partnering with Movidius, Google will use the company's newest chip, the MA2450 (pictured above),...

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