Microsoft has acquired Lobe, a small AI startup that develops software for building apps that can recognize hand signals and read handwriting, the company said in this blog post. Lobe, which uses an AI technique known as deep learning to achieve all of this, is part of a tech industry trend of companies pitching AI development tools to people who aren’t data scientists. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have all echoed this theme.
What this shows is that AI isn’t yet a mainstream technology and the majority of developers haven’t figured how to use it. That will change over time, of course, and so Microsoft and other large companies are trying to guide developers along the path. There’s a lot at stake for Microsoft and its cloud rivals, since building AI-infused applications requires lots of cloud-based computing and storage services and stands to be a significant driver of cloud revenue.