Lenovo has introduced five ready-to-deploy artificial intelligence solutions that combine software from leading ISVs with its own edge and data center hardware.
The new offerings, which are a down payment on what will eventually be a broader portfolio, are designed to help organizations without deep in-house skills leverage AI to address real-world issues, according to Scott Tease, vice president and general manager of high-performance computing and artificial intelligence in Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group (formerly known as the Data Center Group).
“Our goal is to bring all that together and package it up in a way that’s easy to digest,” he says.
One of the new solutions, called crowdHEDGE, merges Lenovo’s SE350 edge servers, NVIDIA GPUs, networked video systems, and drones with software from Addfor, an Italian software developer, to help local governments monitor compliance with coronavirus-related social distancing guidelines.
The city of Turin, Italy, deployed the solution successfully last year to measure foot traffic, crowd sizes, and use of face masks in public spaces. Lenovo, which deployed the system internally for proof-of-concept testing purposes at its own facilities, sees potential applications for it outside the public sector.
“We can use it beyond that to do PPE scanning for a manufacturing facility that needs to check and ensure that workers are properly wearing their protective gear,” says Robert Daigle, Lenovo’s global AI business leader.
The system complies with GDPR data privacy requirements, Lenovo notes.
Another solution, developed in partnership with retail AI specialist Everseen, lets store managers automatically check video input for problems at self-checkout terminals, like shoppers accidentally mis-scanning a price tag or attempting to shoplift an item. “Shrinkage”, as retailers call deliberate or inadvertent inventory loss, is a $60 billion a year challenge at present, according to Lenovo.
A third solution uses ThinkSystem SE350 devices and event stream processing software from analytics vendor SAS to help businesses in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and other verticals uncover hidden insights in data collected at edge locations by computer vision technology and Internet of Things sensors.
A further edge-focused solution aims to help businesses deploy neural networking, deep learning, and other artificial intelligence workloads more easily at remote sites with assistance from data management software from NetApp and Lenovo’s own Intelligent Computing Orchestration platform, plus ThinkSystem servers and Lenovo DM Series storage arrays. According to Daigle, the system is designed to let companies add capacity gradually over time.
“You can scale it out, add more compute, and add more storage as needed,” he says.
The last of the solutions introduced today is designed to help “citizen data scientists” with limited experience in analytics implement machine learning applications at the core of an organization’s infrastructure.
“The challenge for many of these citizen data scientists, and even the IT staff, is how do you manage the workloads inside of your data center?” explains Daigle. Lenovo’s new reference architecture uses software from AI platform vendor cnvrg.io and Lenovo SR650 and SR670 servers to assist with that process by streamlining data preparation, model development, and model deployment.
Lenovo has additional solutions like those announced today on the way. “This is the first five,” Daigle says. “You’re going to see a number more come out throughout the year.”
The vendor’s overriding goal is accelerating and democratizing AI adoption by empowering ordinary businesses to train artificial intelligence on everyday needs. “I know it may not be as sexy as teaching a machine to go identify a dog versus a cat, but what we want to do is deliver real business value to the end user,” Tease says.
Collaborating with software makers like SAS and NetApp is a key part of that effort, he continues. “We do develop some of our own IP, but we believe that the best way to deliver the breadth of what customers are looking for with these AI technologies is to partner with a broad ecosystem of ISV partners.”
Lenovo expanded its family of edge computing servers in March, and has introduced products running the latest AMD and Intel data center processors in recent weeks as well. A new as-a-service purchasing program for infrastructure partners debuted earlier this month.