Pocket-Sized AI Tech Has Arrived

As AI technology grows in popularity and complexity, the natural progression would then be to shrink the actual size this tool needs to function and that’s exactly what a Silicon Valley chip designer has done.

Chip designer Movidius has launched a USB stick with a supercomputer onboard, essentially taking the deep learning paradigm of artificial intelligence to the spacial efficiency of a USB drive. Deep learing involves training a computer which, as we saw with Google’s AlphaGo, can create a true force to be reckoned with. Dubbed, the “Fathom Neural Compute Stick”, the device has been designed to connect to existing systems and increase the performance of deep learning tasks by 20-30 times.

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The chip maker is applying the leap to other endeavors such as helping drones avoid obstacles, and developing higher sensitivity thermal imaging. The company has also signed a deal with Google which may take their DeepMind project to new heights as well.

Facebook’s director of artificial intelligence Yann LeCun states: “As a participant in the deep learning ecosystem, I have been hoping for a long time that something like Fathom would become available. The Fathom Neural Compute Stick is a compact, low-power convolution net accelerator for embedded applications that is quite unique”.

Containing the same chips used in high value drones and professional cameras, the Myriad 2 chip can handle astronomical amounts of processes simultaneously while consuming no more than 1.2 watts.

Possibly the most impressive feature of Fathom is its price tag. Not only is it promising for such a powerful tool to become available in a pocket-sized medium, but with a price tag of just under $100, the audience of potentially world-changing users becomes virtually limitless.

Finally, with advanced VR headsets and titles being released on shorter intervals, Fathom could augment the detail and further reduce the price tags of the newest devices on the market. Fathom is an excellent milestone for the size to efficiency ratio of AI processing and while it isn’t immediately hailing some Matrix robot overlords, steps towards computerized companions can always be considered impressive.


Cyrus is currently getting his bachelors degree in computer programing. As a part time job, Cryus writes contributing articles and content for He is an avid swimmer, loves Minecraft and prefers to program in Python.

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