Build TensorFlow Lite model with Firebase AutoML Vision Edge

Train first image classification model with Firebase ML Kit

For more than a year now, Firebase – backend platform for mobile and web development, has ML Kit SDK in its portfolio. Thanks to this feature, it is way easier to implement machine learning solutions in mobile apps, regardless of ML skills we have. With APIs like Text Recognition or Image Labeling, we can add those functionalities to our app with a couple of lines of code.
ML Kit also provides a simple way for plugging-in custom machine learning solutions – we provide TensorFlow Lite model, and Firebase is responsible for deploying it into our app – multiplatform (Android and iOS), offline or online (model can be bundled with app on downloaded on-demand in runtime), with a simplified code for implementing an interpreter. 

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Traffic signs classification with retrained MobileNet model

Traffic signs classification with retrained MobileNet model

TensorFlow Lite classification model for GTSRB dataset

This post is a part of a series about building Machine Learning solutions in mobile apps. In the previous article, we started from building simple MNIST classification model on top of TensorFlow Lite. That post is also a good place to start if you are looking for some hints about how to set up your very first environment (local with Docker or remote with Colaboratory).

Let’s continue with basics. If you spent some time exploring the Internet for Machine Learning <-> mobile solutions, for sure you found “TensorFlow for Poets” code labs. If not, those are places where you should start your journey with building a more complex solution for apps vision intelligence.

Those code labs are focused on building very first working solution that can be launched directly on your mobile device. And here, we’ll build something very similar, with some additional explanation that can be helpful with understanding TensorFlow Lite a little bit better.


So what are code labs and this article about? They all show how to build a convolutional neural network that is optimized for mobile devices, with a little effort required for defining the structure of the Machine Learning model. Instead of building it from scratch, we’ll use a technique called Transfer Learning and retrain MobileNet for our needs.

MobileNet itself is a lightweight neural network used for vision applications on mobile devices. For more technical details and great visual explanation, please take a look at Matthijs Hollemans’s blog post: Google’s MobileNets on the iPhone (it says “iPhone” 😱, but the first part of the post is fully dedicated to MobileNet architecture). And if you want even more technical details, the paper titled MobileNets: Efficient Convolutional Neural Networks for Mobile Vision Applications will be your friend.

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