Bing and Cortana learn from human behavior, but so do third-party applications like Prism Skylabs, which uses artificial intelligence to help companies search through live and visual data from personal mobile phones to video cameras mounted in retail stores and street corners.
Skylabs is one of many companies working with Microsoft's Cognitive Services technology that enables consumers to download the Prism Vision app from the Apple App Store, type in a word like "jacket" and the location, and Prism will find it based on a visual image from video running in locations nationwide. It collects the data through an API.
In another example, Human Interact developed a virtual reality game the company calls Starship Commander, which provides players with control over the narrative as they maneuver through space and speak with virtual characters.
Alexander Mejia, Human Interact founder, in a video describes how the company's engineers created an experience where the player can communicate with the characters, which can understand the communication with the human and identify voice scripts.
The integration with Microsoft also allowed developed to create new words that the games uses as triggers, similar to the way search ads serve up across Bing.
Microsoft plans to release two Cognitive Services -- Content Moderator and Bing Speech API -- into the wild in March 2017. The Content Moderator quarantines and reviews data such as images, text or videos to filter out unwanted material, such as potentially offensive language or pictures, whereas the Bing Speech API converts audio into text, understands intent and converts text back to speech.
At Microsoft the future of technology is centered on the democratization of artificial intelligence -- a notion that the company embraces through its Cognitive Services, a collection of 25 tools that allow developers to add features such as emotion and sentiment detection, vision and speech recognition, and language understanding to their applications with zero expertise in machine learning.
The same machine-learned technology exists in Microsoft’s Skype Translator, Bing and Cortana. And they are increasingly finding their way into third-party applications that people use every day.