What is Lobe and how is Microsoft Trying to Make AI mainstream?
Microsoft released a free public preview of a tool that lets people train AI models without writing a single line of code.
AI and Machine Learning are complex. We must admit it. And they require advanced knowledge and experience, but today Microsoft started to change this scenario with a very user-friendly tool called Lobe, a free software framework that allows anyone to create machine learning models — no technical skills needed.
Cloud computing, general-purpose GPUs, increased availability of large data sets, and advances in deep learning, a subset of AI machine learning, have sparked a modern AI gold rush but the complexity of the technology still remains an entry barrier for many.
The idea behind Lobe is not new. It started in August 2016 by Mike Matas, Adam Menges, and Markus Beissinger, and in September 2018, Microsoft acquired AI startup Lobe to allow anyone to create artificial intelligence.
What is Lobe?
Lobe is a Windows or Mac desktop software program that allows everyone to create machine-learning models for image classification.
It lets you build machine learning models with the help of a simple drag-and-drop interface.
The steps are simple — create a dataset using a web camera or existing images, mark the categories, train the model, evaluate outcomes, then run the model.
Once the model is developed, you can export it to several platforms. Lobe models can be exported as TensorFlow 1.15 SavedModel, a standard format used in Python applications running TensorFlow 1.x or hosted on AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure.
Lobe supports Apple iOS to build iOS, iPad, and Mac apps through Core ML. Exports to TensorFlow Lite support Android / Raspberry Pi smartphone and IoT applications. Lobe supports local, spreadsheet, and photos, and it offers Python and. NET APIs for exports.
What can you do with Lobe?
Microsoft says early users used Lobe to create apps that recognize dangerous plants, detect beehive invaders like wasps, or send warnings when they mistakenly left their garage door open.
Lobe‘s classification models can be used in many ways. Examples include teaching the software to differentiate toxic from non-toxic plants, responding with emojis to facial expressions, and validating mask wear.
Currently, Lobe supports only image classification projects, but I can imagine that object detection and data classification models can be released in the future.
With Lobe‘s release to the general public today, Microsoft has taken the first step in taking machine learning to the masses — a change that will accelerate AI from B2B to mainstream customers.
Now, everyone has access to machine learning skills and can create models without needing any technical knowledge.
Could it represent a new step towards artificial intelligence democratization?