Google's AIY Vision Kit Helps Developers' Creations "See"

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Search giant Google has a company-wide passion for artificial intelligence, and its latest effort to spread that passion outside of the company comes in the form of the AIY Vision Kit. The latest in the company's AIY series, the AIY Vision Kit manifests as a simple cardboard camera mounting with a lens when fully assembled, but with ports and holes to run hardware to and from the built-in, AI-friendly logic board. It comes with a button, a piezo speaker, and a mounting nut for a tripod. The centerpiece of the seemingly simple kit is the logic board, which Google has dubbed VisionBonnet. Users will have to add in their own Raspberry Pi board and camera, along with a power supply and some storage, such as a MicroSD card.

The VisionBonnet board is the real star of the show. It contains some basic code and a special coprocessor that's optimized for onboard neural networking. This is the first developer kit from Google that takes advantage of onboard machine learning technologies, and it allows developers to create and test computer vision-related projects on real hardware without needing a cloud cluster or even an internet connection, unless their project is based on or uses internet content or remote servers in some form. Since the Raspberry Pi can run Android and has an ARM processor, this kit can be used to develop Android apps or even hardware mods and addons that take advantage of the onboard machine learning technology in the latest flagship processors like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835.

Google's previous effort in this field is the AIY Voice Kit, which allowed developers to play around with voice recognition without building a backend, or even to hook their projects into Google Assistant to use it as a backend, if they so wished. The point of the AIY series of developer advocacy efforts is not to push developers to Google's stable, per se, but to make it easier to experiment with AI technologies, drumming up interest in the field that many claim is the future of the tech sphere. At this time, there is no word on what the next release in the series may be.

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