They may be modeled on the human brain, but neural networks are far better than we are at sorting through huge amounts of data and identifying patterns. Now, to make these powerful AI systems more accessible to smaller-scale developers and businesses, Intel acquisition Movidius is launching the Neural Compute Stick, which packs deep learning algorithms into a standard USB thumb drive.

Over the years, the brain-power of neural networks has been set loose on cancer screening, mapping the human genome, and creating trippy works of art. But most of these endeavors have come out of big organizations like Google.

With the Movidius Neural Compute Stick, Intel says it's "democratizing" the technology, so we might see creative applications from small-scale developers, such as rigging up an AI system to stop cats pooping on the lawn. The brain of the Stick is a Myriad 2 visual processing unit (VPU), which is specifically designed for mobile and wearable devices. That means it's fast and fully-programmable, yet has an ultra-low power consumption and a small physical footprint.

"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," says Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager of Movidius. "This enables a wide range of AI applications to be deployed offline."

The device can be tuned to run both industry standard and custom-designed neural networks, and can also be used as an accelerator, boosting the brain power of an existing computer.

The Movidius Neural Compute Stick is available now for US$79. Intel shows it off in the video below.

Source: Intel

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