5 stories from #msbuild that inspired me – and hopefully you – as a developer

Karina Homme

This guest blog post is written by Vishwas Lele from Applied Information Sciences (AIS). AIS provides software and systems engineering services to government agencies and businesses across the United States. They specialize in cloud services, DevOps, custom application development and IT services. For additional information please visit www.appliedis.com

I recently attended BUILD 2017. As always, there were several announcements about exciting new and upcoming releases, discussions about growth in adoption and how customers across the world are leveraging technology in creative ways. Much of this news was well covered in trade press articles and blog posts. In this blog post I am going to focus on 5 stories that inspired me as a developer.

For me it started with Satyaa’s comment “The future of computing is not going to be defined by any runtime or platform technology. It is going to be defined by choices that we make as developers and the impact of those choices. I am inspired by the stories of an individual developer who develops a deep sense of empathy for a scenario, or another human being, and then goes after it with this most malleable of resources that we have – software – and changes the world.”

Note – I have provided short clips for each story below. These clips were created using a technology announced at BUILD, Video Indexer (videoindexer.ai). Video Indexer allows you to extract insights from the video by detecting spoken words, faces, characters and emotions. You can also create highlights from videos by selecting a collection of clips (which is how I created these clips below). So we are using a technology announced at BUILD to talk about technologies announced at BUILD – how meta can it get? This in itself may be inspiring to most developers. 

#1 How a newly developed wrist-worn device helped Emma write again!

Individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s disease deal with uncontrollable hand tremors every day.  Emma Lawton is 33, and one of the 2% of people with Parkinson’s who have been diagnosed with the neurological condition before they are 40.  Microsoft researcher Haiyan Zhang has developed a wrist-worn device that counteracts the impulses being sent to the patient’s arm. What is interesting is that the brain detects that the patients arm is not shaking and stops sending signals to the arm. Haiyan thinks that this approach may be a line of thinking that neurology researchers may follow in the future.

Both Emma and Haiyan joined Satya on stage to a loud applause from a misty-eyed audience. Look at the short clip below as Emma calls her mom to tell her that she has been able write her name with her own hands for the first time in several years!

#2 AI Vision advances for a safer workplace of the future

AI-based vision technologies have advanced to a point where they can be applied not just to people but also to object recognition. Imagine applying this technology to enforce rules in the workplace. This is the exactly the demo we witnessed during the keynote. The system detected a jackhammer dangerously hanging from a bench. This triggered a policy violation, generating a notification for the supervisor. In turn, the supervisor notified the worker on the shop floor to address the violation. Imagine the potential of this technology in reducing workplace injuries!

#3 Powerpoint Translator – Bring the world closer with real-time translation 

Yina Arenas and Harry Shum demonstrated a feature that enables a PowerPoint presentation to be translated real-time in 64 languages! Yina spoke to the first slide in Spanish. PowerPoint Translator then automatically converted her speech to English and *also* to Chinese (because Harry logged onto the presentation via his phone and had Chinese as his preference). What was even more impressive was that Harry could speak back in Chinese and have his speech in turn be translated into English.

#4 Story Remix – Collaborative storytelling

Story Remix is a tool that allows you to collaborate with a group of people to create great-looking videos with ease. Lorraine Bardeen showed an inspiring example to anyone associated with kids’ soccer. She took a collection of videos from parents, coaches and combined them into a single video. Story Remix made the “creative editing” of the video look easy, even for those who don’t have extensive experience with video-editing software. In this clip, Story Remix, using AI, automatically picked the right clips with smiles and action. Story Remix even trimmed the clips to just the best moments, and even automatically changed the cuts and filters to the beat of the background music.

#5 IoT Edge – “ Bringing the benefits of the cloud to devices on the edge

There are many scenarios where running a piece of code in the cloud is not enough (say when connectivity to the cloud is lost), or even possible (because of the extra cloud cost it entails). In such scenarios, it would be helpful to have the code run on an edge device. During the keynote, Sam George talked about this capability, which is baked into Azure IoT. Using this capability, it is possible to take an existing piece of code that is running in the cloud, and deploy it to an edge device that may even be smaller than a Raspberry Pi. All of the CI/CD pipeline still runs in the cloud so there is one version of the code, but it is running on cloud and edge devices via a container-based technology. This opens up new opportunities for leveraging the cloud in regions of the world where internet connectivity or power cannot be always guaranteed.

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