Your next salad might be grown in the cloud and served with a side of artificial intelligence.
Cloud computing, a technology that relies on clustered servers positioned across the globe, supports everything from drones to machine learning and the smart home. Using cloud tech, farms are about to become a lot smarter as well.
Microsoft's FarmBeats program uses the company's Azure cloud to connect agricultural devices and generate data intended to help farms operate more efficiently. Sensors embedded in the soil use the cloud to communicate with drones that circle farms to direct irrigation patterns and herbicide distribution and to optimize the harvesting of crops.
CNET visited Microsoft's Cloud Collaboration Center in Redmond, Washington, to learn more about how the cloud, AI and the internet of things (IoT) are transforming business.
"We use machine learning and image recognition to understand how our crops are growing," said Jason Zander, executive vice president of Microsoft Azure. "Today a lot of irrigation systems … just kind of throw water everywhere. Being able to leverage drones and some of these sensors means we save water and get better production out of [farms]."
The cloud is evolving rapidly, said Zander. "A decade ago the cloud helped mobile phones become ubiquitous. Today, the cloud becomes really powerful when it helps other emerging technologies like AI and IoT. It's exciting because we can help entire [business] sectors quickly become more efficient."