Intel’s first developer conference kicks off later today in Beijing, but before things get underway the company debuted a new device that should be of interest to those who create AI-based applications and functions on the network edge.

The device in question is the Intel Neural Compute Stick 2, and this latest offering retails for $100 (~R1 440).

“The first-generation Intel Neural Compute Stick sparked an entire community of AI developers into action with a form factor and price that didn’t exist before. We’re excited to see what the community creates next with the strong enhancement to compute power enabled with the new Intel Neural Compute Stick 2,” said Naveen Rao, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of AI products group.

So what does the Neural Compute Stick 2 do?

Well it’s specifically designed to help developers when working on edge devices, which are the devices that sit in between two networks and facilitate the communication process.

These include routers and switches, but have also been extended to IoT devices like self-flying drones, smart doorbell cameras and industrial robots, explains Intel.

The Stick 2 features Intel’s Movidius Myriad X VPU technology, which in turn will allow developers to prototype their IoT-specific applications with greater flexibility.

Added to this is the ability to do all this in the same kind of form factor that one expects from a USB thumb drive. The standard USB 3.0 port onboard the Stick 2 will also assist in converting and then deploying PC-trained models to a wide range of devices natively and without internet or cloud connectivity, adds Intel.

The company is hoping that the Neural Compute Stick 2 will prove popular with developers and outperform its predecessor, which Intel says has been used by tens of thousands of developers, featured in over 700 videos and been utilised in dozes of research papers.

No word yet on when the Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 will be available to local developers at this stage.