It looks like an ordinary USB stick. But plug it into any device’s USB port and it instantly makes your software smarter — as if you plugged in another brain.
The Fathom Neural Compute Stick, made by the semiconductor company Movidius, powers “deep learning” — the ability to see and analyze images, and learn from what it observes, much like a human. We’re talking office security cameras that can distinguish a burglar from a janitor, or self-driving cars capable of finding legal, nonmetered parking. The business possibilities are endless.
Tech like this “will replace experts in fields where we simply needed a ‘pair of eyes’ on the job,” says Movidius CEO Remi El-Ouazzane. “We’ve built machines that can now detect and perceive visual data better than humans.”
You’ll need some programming chops to take advantage of its abilities. All its computing power comes from inside that little stick, rather than by connecting to the cloud. That cuts down on lag time, which is important for, say, the collision-avoidance system in your drone. Movidius’ stick will be out by the end of the year. It will be cheap (less than $100) and energy-efficient.