Intel on Thursday launched its Movidius Neural Compute Stick, which will enable users to easily develop artificial intelligence and deep learning applications, and even use the technology in research.

The device is basically a $79 AI accelerator in a USB stick, that can be used without having to tap into a cloud-based system

It consumes just 1 watt of power and provides 100 gigaflops of performance.

It runs on a Caffe framework and connects to a PC via USB 3.0. It requires a 64-bit PC running Ubuntu 16.04, with 1GB RAM and 4GB onboard memory to function. More importantly, it can easily function offline, which means that it will make it easier to develop AI prototypes.

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“The Myriad 2 VPU housed inside the Movidius Neural Compute Stick provides powerful, yet efficient performance — more than 100 gigaflops of performance within a 1W power envelope — to run real-time deep neural networks directly from the device. This enables a wide range of AI applications to be deployed offline,” Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of Movidius, said in a press release describing the processing unit, performance and applications of the device.

At this price, the device would make it much easier to develop AI, as it would make it easier to add deep learning capabilities to existing computing platforms.

The company claims the device will make it easier to develop, tune and deploy AI applications.

Using the device's technology, developers will be able to design an AI powered drone or robot more easily. It will also give researchers tools for AI development and developers would be able to program AI into apps and devices. For example, lending object recognition to existing smart devices.

More importantly, the Movidius USB stick could reduce research and development costs for testing machine learning applications, and can come handy if a developer wants to deploy AI in his app. Developers also have the option of using either the Intel Nervana cloud or any other neural network to train their AI models as the stick will not differentiate between the two. Developers also have the option of using more than one Movidius USB stick if they think a single stick is incapable of providing the power they need.

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Even regular smartphone developers might be able to make better use of AI with the new device since it supports multi-stage multi-task convolutional neural networks (MTCNN). In simple terms, developers will be more easily able to use technologies such as facial recognition in their applications. A broad range of devices can be easily made AI-capable using the stick.

AI and neural networks make it easy to interpret large chunks of data from devices such as drones and security cameras. Using the cheaply available AI capabilities of the Movidius stick, this data can be more easily interpreted.