The question is better stated as WHO is Intel Movidius. Movidius was a company founded in Ireland in 2005 that designs “Vision Processing Units” (VPUs) which take inputs from video cameras and apply Deep Learning AI to the images to determine what is being viewed. The most obvious applications are in drones, robotics and security camera systems but there are many others.
Intel bought the company to:
“…get its RealSense sensor tech in as many devices as possible and a major key is keeping the power usage low enough to appeal to a broad array of devices. Movidius gives Intel an in to get its sensor tech on low-powered mobile devices. Movidius’ SoC claims a sub-1 Watt power budget, a rate much lower than competitors.” SOURCE
Prior to Intel buying Movidius in September of 2016, the company’s most notable business relationship was with a Google’s Project Tango in January 2016. Tango was supposed to bring augmented reality to cell phones but in March 1st 2017 shut it down because a Googles related technology, ARCore, was already a success.
Intel then bought Israeli autonomous automobile startup Mobileye in March 2017.
Who is Mobileye?
Mobileye gave Intel ‘front end sensors’ and Movidius gave it the Machine Learning AI chip required to use those sensors in a highly efficient manor.
What is a Movidius Neural Compute Stick?
Intel Movidius released a fascinating ultra low power AI based vision chip on a USB stick in July of 2017 but replaced it with a “Movidius™ Neural Compute Stick 2” (NCS) in June of 2018 they claim is a massive eight times more powerful.
The NCS is a small USB device using “Movidius Myriad X VPU” the that requires no external power but has the capability of analyzing video frame by frame in real time with no external connection requirements. It does not just perform basic analysis and then push to the cloud for the ‘heavy’ analysis. This means that this little USB stick can learn on it’s own what it is looking at and then feed that information back to a developers software to make decisions.
It can tell the difference between a photo on a wall and real physical persons head in real time. This leads to their slogan “Plug-and-Play AI at the Edge”.
The NCS2 stick is very inexpensive at about USD$75 can be bought everywhere including Amazon and best of all can be ‘teamed’ so you can keep adding NCS sticks to increase performance.
In April 2017 Intel starting to coordinate it’s AI efforts by putting deep learning startup Nervana, Mobileye and Movidius into their new “Artificial Intelligence Products Group (AIPG)”.
Don’t Count Intel Out Just Yet
Intel may have serious problems with NVidia encroaching into their CPU business with their ARM acquisition but NVidia is having problems with Intel encroaching into their AI business.
Much like Blackberry quietly (and successfully) morphed from a cell phone maker to automotive automation juggernaut, Intel may change from a famous CPU maker to an Artificial Intelligence behemoth.