Microsoft acquires AI startup Lobe

On Thursday Microsoft  announced it has acquired Lobe, a small San Francisco start-up that focuses on making it easy to train and deploy artificial intelligence models.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lobe’s service, which is available in beta, provides an online interface for assembling models that doesn’t require coding, making it different from what’s available from some other providers.

The system can make predictions based on data it’s trained on from cameras, microphones and other data input systems; it can also generate new data. The platform that can understand hand gestures, read handwriting, and hear music, will continue to develop as a standalone service, according to the company’s website.

“This in large part is because AI development and building deep learning models are slow and complex processes even for experienced data scientists and developers. To date, many people have been at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing AI, and we’re committed to changing that,”

Lobe is Microsoft’s third San Francisco-area AI startup acquisition in recent months, following the acquisition of natural language processing company Semantics Machines in May to beef up Cortana’s intelligence, give voice app developers better tools, and open a conversational AI center for excellence at the University of California, Berkeley.

In June, Microsoft acquired Bonsai, a company with a platform with automated model generation management.

Each of the acquisitions was made to further Microsoft’s efforts to simplify the ways in which people can create their own AI models, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scot said.

Lobe was established in 2015, currently has three employees, and is based in San Francisco. A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the potential evolution of the Lobe platform or incorporation of Lobe tech into its AI services.

Lobe’s CEO, Adam Menges, was previously a machine learning engineer and product manager at Apple.

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