Starbucks to Use Azure to Track Coffee Supply Chain

As planned, customers of coffee shops will be able to track the movement of coffee from the country of origin to their cup
07 May 2019   249

Starbucks uses Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain service to control the coffee production process, Geekwire reports.

Starbucks’s work on integrating the blockchain into its operations began in 2018 with a grain-in-a-cup initiative aimed at tracking coffee supplies from farmers from Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda. It was assumed that customers of coffee shops will be able to track the movement of coffee from the country of origin to their cup. In addition, with the help of its blockchain initiative, Starbucks expects to expand the financial capabilities of planters.

As noted in the company, the results of the pilot project will be open to all interested participants. To implement the task, they contacted Microsoft and its division Azure.

According to Geekwire, the two companies presented many joint initiatives at the Build conference held on Monday, organized by Microsoft. Other projects are associated, for example, with the predicted order processing “on the go” and the addition of equipment to coffee shops that has connection to the Internet of Things.

Microsoft announced the launch of the blockchain-as-service service of Azure Blockchain last week, calling Quorum, developed by JPMorgan on the Ethereum codebase, as the first supported blockchain.

Microsoft to Use AI to Create Human Voice

Synthetic voice is nearly indistinguishable from recordings of people
27 September 2018   1348

Researchers from Microsoft recorded computer voice, imitating human speech. To overcome the difficulties of the traditional model, they used neural networks for speech synthesis. Microsoft promises to provide support for 49 languages ​​and the ability to create unique voices for the needs of companies in the near future.

Synthesis of speech with the help of neural networks involves comparing the stress and length (so-called prosody) of the speaker's speech units, as well as their synthesis into a computer voice. In systems of traditional speech synthesis, prosody is divided into acoustic and linguistic analysis, controlled by various models. As a result, the speech is noisy and indistinct. Representatives of Microsoft argue that in the model of neural synthesis two stages are combined into one, so the voice sounds like a real one.

The developers are convinced that the synthesis of speech with the help of neural networks will make it more natural to communicate with virtual interlocutors and assistants. Moreover, it will enable you to convert e-books into audiobooks and will allow you to change the scoring of built-in navigators.

Microsoft Neural TTS
Microsoft Neural TTS

Azure computing power is available for real-time use, and Azure Kubernetes is responsible for this. Simultaneous application of neural synthesis of speech together with traditional speaks about expansion and increase of availability of service. At the moment, there are a female voice named Jessa and a man named Guy.

Microsoft is competing in speech recognition and synthesis technologies with Google, which updated its services in late August 2018. Google Cloud announced the release of a stable API for the synthesis of speech Cloud Text-to-Speech with the experimental function of audio profiles and support for several new languages.