Tag Archives: company

Remote monitoring and management: Netgear Insight Pro debuts

Netgear has launched Insight Pro, a cloud-based remote monitoring and management platform that the company said will bring managed service providers more network management capabilities, as well as attractive revenue opportunities when they resell the service.

Netgear executives said Insight Pro is a multi-tenancy platform designed for MSPs that want to manage numerous customers remotely. This is a change from the previous version of the product, called Insight, which was designed to manage the network ecosystem of only one small or medium-sized business.

The networking company, based in San Jose, Calif., introduced Netgear Insight Pro in August in North America and Asia, and it featured the product earlier this month at the CEDIA Expo conference in San Diego.

John McHugh, general manager and senior vice president for Netgear’s commercial business unit, said Insight Pro can help MSPs and their customers build a better business relationship. The aim is to help those parties gain transparency, greater efficiency and control over network operations.

Remote monitoring and management reporting

Once an MSP buys a Netgear Insight Pro subscription at $15 per device, per year, and resells the subscription service, customers that sign on can see a read-only view of their network. The remote monitoring and management offering generates reports that give users details on power usage, data consumption and storage utilization, among other usage statistics that show the health and vulnerabilities that exist across the network. 

“Insight will detect a hardware failure, bandwidth or loading issues and configuration problems,” McHugh said. “It will also help the MSP determine what the ‘peak’ loading is, which is critical to provide customers with guidance on where they might need additional capacity either now or in the future.”

Customers don’t want to commit to a cloud model and then get stuck in an arrangement that’s unaffordable.
John McHughgeneral manager and senior vice president for Netgear’s commercial business unit

To guard against network slowdowns, mitigate the impact of outages and protect the network against security breaches, Netgear Insight Pro is supported by a suite of Netgear products that include apps, firmware, wireless LANs, storage devices, network security tools and switches that run on Amazon Web Services’ cloud computing platforms.

As the cloud subscription model continues to reduce the need for value-added resellers to install hardware at customer sites, the Insight Pro product will help VARs transition to a service provider business, according to McHugh. He said many VARs are intimidated by the idea of managing a customer’s network on a 24/7 basis under a subscription model.

“In the case of a VAR who is becoming an IT service provider, they don’t have to purchase any equipment, and they don’t have to stand up a 24-by-7 data center or call centers to manage their customer’s network. All the notifications and alerts go straight to their phone,” McHugh said.

Netgear Insight Pro: Toggling the cloud

Another feature of the remote monitoring and management product: MSPs using Insight Pro can switch access to the cloud on or off. Once an MSP has authenticated itself and started a subscription, McHugh said, the MSP will have the option to choose whether it wants to manage a customer’s network locally or manage it through the cloud.

“Customers don’t want to commit to a cloud model and then get stuck in an arrangement that’s unaffordable,” McHugh said. “Partners and their customers demand that they have this flexibility as they work through their concerns over user experience and the cost of operations. Customers of Insight Pro only pay for what they use.”

Another mSpy leak exposed millions of sensitive user records

Mobile spyware company mSpy has once again leaked millions of customer records to the public internet.

The company develops mobile spyware that customers use to monitor the mobile device activity of their children, partners and others. Security researcher Nitish Shah discovered the mSpy leak via a public-facing database and reached out to cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs, who first reported the leak.

Krebs looked into the mSpy leak and said no authentication was required to access the database. The customer data included passwords, call logs, text messages, contacts, notes and location data — all of which was compiled by the mSpy spyware — and there were millions of records. Additionally, there were records containing the username, password and private encryption key of every mSpy customer who was active in the last six months. The database also included the Apple iCloud usernames and authentication tokens of the Apple devices running mSpy.

According to Krebs, anyone who accessed the database would be able to see WhatsApp and Facebook messages that were also compiled by mSpy.

Krebs also noted that the transaction details of all mSpy licenses purchased within the last six months were exposed, and that included customer names, email addresses and mailing addresses. Additionally, there was browser and internet address information from users visiting the mSpy website.

The exposed database was taken offline this week. But Shah told Krebs the company’s support people ignored him when he tried to alert them of the mSpy leak and asked to be directed to their head of technology or security. After Shah contacted Krebs, Krebs reached out to mSpy as well, with only slightly better results. The chief security officer of mSpy said the company was aware of the issue and was working on it.

In response to Krebs’ article, mSpy issued a statement in which it acknowledged there was an incident, but denied that millions of records had been exposed.

This isn’t the first mSpy leak in recent years. In 2015, Krebs also reported a data leak after mSpy was hacked and customer data was posted on the dark web. In that breach, the information of over 400,000 was estimated to be exposed, and mSpy “initially denied suffering a breach for more than week,” according to Krebs, despite customers confirming their data was part of the exposed cache.

In other news:

  • The FIDO Alliance has launched a certification program for biometrics. “Biometric user verification has become a popular way to replace passwords and PINs, but the lack of an industry-defined program to validate performance claims has led to concerns over variances in the accuracy and reliability of these solutions,” the FIDO Alliance said. The certification, called the Biometric Component Certification Program, is designed for both users and providers. For enterprises, FIDO said, “it provides a standardized way to trust that the biometric systems they are relying upon for fingerprint, iris, face and/or voice recognition can reliably identify users and detect presentation attacks.”
  • More than 7,500 MikroTik routers were infected with malware, according to researchers from Qihoo 360 Netlab. The malware logs and transmits network traffic information to servers under the hackers’ control. The researchers found the routers were infected by the malware through an exploit of a vulnerability disclosed in the Vault7 leaks of alleged CIA hacking tools. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-14847, was patched in April. The researchers noticed the malicious activity on their honeypot systems in July specifically aimed at MikroTik routers. The largest number of routers affected by CVE-2018-14847 exploits were in Russia, as well as Iran, Brazil, India and Ukraine.
  • Hackers have compromised the MEGA Chrome extension — which is used for secure cloud storage — to steal login credentials and cryptocurrency keys, according to researchers. First discovered by an anonymous researcher called SerHack, the malicious version of the browser extension monitors for usernames and passwords in login forms on Amazon, Microsoft, GitHub and Google, and then it sends the credentials to a host in Ukraine. It also scanned for URLs relating to cryptocurrency sites, and then it would try to steal that login data, as well. The malicious version of the MEGA Chrome extension was put in place at some point after Sept. 2, and Google has already taken it down. There’s no evidence the Firefox version of MEGA has been compromised. Chrome users of the MEGA extension should remove it immediately and change all account passwords.

Kabbage: Line-of-credit product can boost channel margins

Kabbage Inc., a fintech company based in Atlanta, is bringing its style of digital disruption to the IT channel.

The company’s newly launched channel venture lets partners offer their small-business customers a Kabbage line of credit. The company said its financing product, which provides small businesses with lines of credit up to $250,000, boosts partner margins and provides a recurring revenue stream. Fintechs such as Kabbage are challenging traditional financial services firms.

Kabbage provides upfront commissions to partners that include the offering as part of a customer sale. The line of credit may be used to finance any product or service the channel partner provides. Beyond the initial transaction, however, the small business may continue to use Kabbage financing for any business need.

Partners receive recurring revenue based on a customer’s continuing use of the line of credit. Kabbage pays partners every time a customer uses the line of credit for the lifetime of the customer.

Noel Hillman, head of sales at KabbageNoel Hillman

Initially, Kabbage has primarily targeted telecommunications and unified communications agents and master agents with the financing product. Noel Hillman, head of sales at Kabbage, said the telecom orientation stems from his experience as a channel executive with a collaboration vendor. But he noted the Kabbage approach to small-business financing can also work with other types of resellers and managed services providers.

“What every company is really looking for is a new distribution channel,” Hillman said. “The IT channel was a good fit for Kabbage.”

Kabbage line of credit: Business, channel benefits

Hillman said the financing product helps channel-partner customers, noting that every small business “faces working capital issues day in and day out.” For partners, Kabbage’s commission structure provides incentives to offer Kabbage financing as part of their regular sales cycle.

The commissions add margin to a deal, and the potential for additional margin stems from the customer’s ability to purchase products and services through the Kabbage line of credit that they would not have otherwise.

The IT channel was a good fit for Kabbage.
Noel Hillmanhead of sales at Kabbage

The financing can help partners improve services margins, in particular. Hillman said small businesses’ typical financing options usually don’t cover services and apply only to certain products. This situation compels the channel partner to compromise on services in order to make the deal. But the ability to apply the Kabbage line of credit to services, as well as products, keeps margins intact.

“We can allow that agent to keep the margin and offer more services to the end customers,” Hillman said.

In the IT channel, distributors have traditionally played a financing role. Hillman said Kabbage can provide an alternative to distributor financing, but can also supplement what distributors offer.

“We can enhance that financing … if [agents] want to offer more services,” he said.

In addition to small-business customers, channel partners can also obtain a Kabbage line of credit. Partners may need funds to support a business model transition or a new line of business.

Qualifying for credit

Small-business customers can qualify for Kabbage financing in about seven minutes, according to Hillman. The company uses integrations with Intuit’s QuickBooks accounting software and other financial applications to obtain a small business’s revenue and transaction data. The data is then loaded in Kabbage’s underwriting algorithm to determine the amount of credit for which the small business qualifies.

As of December 2017, the company had extended more than $4 billion in financing to small businesses.

“Our qualification process is extremely data-driven versus the old-school banking method,” Hillman said.

However, the finer points of financing arrangements will be left to Kabbage and not the channel partner.

“The way we set it up, we are handling the more difficult financial conversations that go along with the product,” Hillman explained, noting that agents can focus on the other products and services they offer customers.

HubSpot enterprise edition unveiled

BOSTON — Since its inception, HubSpot has been known as a software company for SMBs, providing low-cost or free versions of marketing automation and CRM software, eventually adding sales and service tools.

Now the inbound marketing automation software vendor is targeting the enterprise market, with new products that the company said are commercially available now.

At its annual user conference, Inbound 2018, HubSpot unveiled a lineup of HubSpot enterprise tools aimed at helping companies that have outgrown the vendor’s initial products stay with HubSpot.

HubSpot had to expand reach

HubSpot “was losing customers, so it needed to expand,” said Predrag Jakovljevic, principal analyst at Technology Evaluation Centers.

Jakovljevic said with the HubSpot enterprise products, the company can target larger companies that need more scalability. He said HubSpot enterprise products can scale up to companies with up to about 2,000 employees.

The launch was not without its glitches. Early Sept. 6, the morning after HubSpot introduced the enterprise platform, an outage occurred. Tweeters quickly exposed it via the #HubSpotDown hashtag. HubSpot got it back online, blaming “configuration code” issues in a company blog.

HubSpot also released a video creation tool and a CMS product.

HubSpot CEO and co-founder Brian Halligan
HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan keynotes at Inbound, HubSpot’s annual user conference

The branding could be seen as slightly confusing, as the term “enterprise” is commonly used to refer to the largest of organizations — ones with multiple departments scattered across locations, said Laurie McCabe, an analyst and partner at SMB Group. HubSpot, however, is using enterprise in terms of scaling up an organization’s processes.

“In the tech industry, we’ve taken the word ‘enterprise’ to mean large businesses,” McCabe said. “HubSpot is just continuing to grow with its customers.”

Moving to enterprise

Among the new HubSpot enterprise offerings are Sales Hub Enterprise and Service Hub Enterprise.

Sales Hub Enterprise offers the capability to build out best practices and resources for a sales team — useful for enterprises trying to get large sales teams working in the same direction. Service Hub Enterprise includes features to help teams track against service-level agreements and other service metrics.

The existing Marketing Hub Enterprise received upgrades around analytics and custom bot capabilities. HubSpot now offers three levels of sales, marketing and service products: starter, professional and enterprise.

[HubSpot] was losing customers, so it needed to expand.
Predrag Jakovljevicprincipal analyst, Technology Evaluation Centers

Users at Inbound 2018 expressed enthusiasm about some of the new features, but also wondered whether HubSpot enterprise products were right for their organization.

“We’re trying to embrace tech and bring an old-fashioned niche market into the modern world,” said Chad Wiertzema, creative marketing manager at ITM TwentyFirst, an independent life insurance firm. “We’ve used [HubSpot Marketing Hub] for about a year now at the professional level, and we’re wondering if it makes sense for us to use the enterprise product.”

Wiertzema said he spoke to a HubSpot rep about the enterprise product and whether ITM TwentyFirst would benefit from it, as the company has grown over the past five years.

“We’re getting close to it,” he said, referring to his company’s growth and whether it is ready for larger scale platform from HubSpot.

HubSpot adds video creation

HubSpot said it hopes that its new suite of products will enable its customers to better sell customer experiences, rather than products or services.

“The product used to win,” said Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot, in a keynote. “Now the customer experience is what wins.”

HubSpot’s CTO and other co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, echoed that sentiment from the conference stage.

“Improving your experience by 10 times is much easier than improving your product by 10 times,” Shah said.

HubSpot also released a video feature available across its suite of products. HubSpot Video — powered by partner Vidyard — will include video hosting, in-video forms and a video creation tool.

HubSpot Video enables marketers to host and manage video files for campaigns, according to the company. Sales reps can create and share personalized videos from the CRM and service teams can help customers more completely with personalized service videos.

“Videos are what customers want,” McCabe said. “And they are sometimes easier to produce than blog posts.”

Video for creating content

Other users spoke positively about the potential for HubSpot Video, with creating content becoming a bigger priority for many companies.

Meanwhile, other features across all three HubSpot enterprise products include Slack integrations, machine learning for predictive lead scoring and Conversations — HubSpot’s communication unifier, previewed a year ago and commercially released in August 2018.

HubSpot also released a stand-alone CMS tool to help with website creation, as well as a Service Hub Starter product, which helps organizations do entry-level service requests like ticketing, help desk services and connecting with customers through live chat.

Pricing for HubSpot products varies depending on whether an organization licenses the starter, professional or enterprise level.

For Sale – Apple Macbook Pro (MBP) Retina 13″ Late-2013 8GB / 256GB. Cheap, £375

Moving this on as I now have a company laptop which I use for everything.

I’m the second owner, and have owned for three years.

Got purchase receipt (DABS) showing date of 25/4/2014

Full spec is here – model a1502 – 8gb ram, 256gb SSD, 2.4ghz i5, retina screen

MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.4 13″ Late 2013 Specs (Retina Late 2013 13”, ME864LL/A*, MacBookPro11,1, A1502, 2678): EveryMac.com

It’s boxed including the additional PSU extension lead that the newer ones don’t ship with.

I’ve also got an additional (3rd party) mag-safe PSU that I will include.

Battery cycle count 519, but still holds good charge

Running OSX Sierra, and wiped for new owner

The bad:

  • Dink in bottom, see pics
  • Touchpad does not click down properly across all of the surface (it works better on the left for example), therefore you have to use “tap to click”, which is my preference so it’s never bothered me
  • Missing one of the screws underneath, I lost this when trying to fix the touchpad a couple of years ago

£375 inc courier delivery

I am based on Solihull if you want to collect

Payment via BACS/Cash

Thanks!

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

Price and currency: 375
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BACS
Location: Solihull
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple Macbook Pro (MBP) Retina 13″ Late-2013 8GB / 256GB. Cheap, £375

Moving this on as I now have a company laptop which I use for everything.

I’m the second owner, and have owned for three years.

Got purchase receipt (DABS) showing date of 25/4/2014

Full spec is here – model a1502 – 8gb ram, 256gb SSD, 2.4ghz i5, retina screen

MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.4 13″ Late 2013 Specs (Retina Late 2013 13”, ME864LL/A*, MacBookPro11,1, A1502, 2678): EveryMac.com

It’s boxed including the additional PSU extension lead that the newer ones don’t ship with.

I’ve also got an additional (3rd party) mag-safe PSU that I will include.

Battery cycle count 519, but still holds good charge

Running OSX Sierra, and wiped for new owner

The bad:

  • Dink in bottom, see pics
  • Touchpad does not click down properly across all of the surface (it works better on the left for example), therefore you have to use “tap to click”, which is my preference so it’s never bothered me
  • Missing one of the screws underneath, I lost this when trying to fix the touchpad a couple of years ago

£375 inc courier delivery

I am based on Solihull if you want to collect

Payment via BACS/Cash

Thanks!

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

Price and currency: 375
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BACS
Location: Solihull
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple Macbook Pro (MBP) Retina 13″ Late-2013 8GB / 256GB. Cheap, £375

Moving this on as I now have a company laptop which I use for everything.

I’m the second owner, and have owned for three years.

Got purchase receipt (DABS) showing date of 25/4/2014

Full spec is here – model a1502 – 8gb ram, 256gb SSD, 2.4ghz i5, retina screen

MacBook Pro “Core i5″ 2.4 13″ Late 2013 Specs (Retina Late 2013 13”, ME864LL/A*, MacBookPro11,1, A1502, 2678): EveryMac.com

It’s boxed including the additional PSU extension lead that the newer ones don’t ship with.

I’ve also got an additional (3rd party) mag-safe PSU that I will include.

Battery cycle count 519, but still holds good charge

Running OSX Sierra, and wiped for new owner

The bad:

  • Dink in bottom, see pics
  • Touchpad does not click down properly across all of the surface (it works better on the left for example), therefore you have to use “tap to click”, which is my preference so it’s never bothered me
  • Missing one of the screws underneath, I lost this when trying to fix the touchpad a couple of years ago

£375 inc courier delivery

I am based on Solihull if you want to collect

Payment via BACS/Cash

Thanks!

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

[​IMG]

Price and currency: 375
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BACS
Location: Solihull
Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Microsoft expands commitment to support computer science education in Seattle for students of color

Today Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the company is investing $500,000 in two partnerships that will expand computer science and STEM learning opportunities for students of color in our backyard.

We are partnering with Black Girls Code to help them establish a Seattle based chapter. Kimberly Bryant founded the nonprofit seven years ago to introduce programming and technology to young and pre-teen girls of color through clubs led by women engineers of color. It has grown 13 cities across the United States and we are proud Seattle will be its 14th. We are also deepening our longtime partnership with Technology Access Foundation (TAF) with an investment in STEMbyTAF. The foundation was founded in 1997 by former Microsoft leader, Trish Millines Dziko, initially as an out-of-school program offering technology skills training, internships and college prep to students of color in Seattle. Since then, TAF has opened its own school and become a sought-after expert on how to create learning environments that eliminate race-based disparity in academic achievement. STEMbyTAF is designed to help replicate their successful strategies at other area schools. 

The partnerships build on Microsoft’s long-term commitment and responsibility to help ensure every young person has access to computer science education, from all gender, racial, ethnic, geographic and income backgrounds. While we are proud of our long-term investments in our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program and in Code.org, along with many other vital partners, we know there is still more we have to do to bridge the gaps in equity in the field of technology. Despite the increase in access of computer science education in schools across America, significant gender and racial gaps remain between which students participate in high school computer science courses. Last year, only five percent of AP Computer Science test takers were African-American and only one-quarter were young women. At the same time, we face a STEM pipeline crisis where our workforce needs are growing at an accelerating pace.

Kimberly and Trish are extraordinary role models for young women of color and have made it their life’s work to ensure all students of color – especially black and brown girls – have the access, encouragement and support they need to pursue careers in technology. To do so, both believe these students need more culturally relevant learning opportunities that include mentoring and relationship building with teachers and adult engineers that look like them and have shared experiences as women of color. 

We applaud trailblazers like Kimberly and Trish and are proud to support their important work. But most of all, we hope these investments will help a lot more students find a passion for technology, the opportunity to pursue a STEM education and most importantly believe it is possible for them. As Satya has said in the past, Microsoft can only be successful if we have people of all backgrounds building our technology and we cannot build product and services for everyone unless everyone is represented in our engineering ranks. We look forward to working with partners in the region to bring even more resources to ensure that girls of color in the Puget Sound region have opportunities to learn computer science.

Evaluating CMS platforms, LA County stays on Documentum

TORONTO — It turns out that when you have an organization so big it would be a Fortune 500 company if it were in the private sector, comparables are hard to find when evaluating CMS platforms and a possible rip and replace.

That’s a challenge the tech team including Murtaza Masood, the assistant director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Human Resources, faced when deciding whether to stay with Documentum and its myriad content service tentacles that reached throughout the county’s systems, which serve 110,000 employees. The evaluation came last year after OpenText acquired Documentum from EMC.

In this Pipeline podcast, Masood describes how it took three years to get an HR digital transformation started so they could then move forward and streamline processes.

We embarked on a strategic roadmap to transform all things HR into digital platforms.
Murtaza MasoodLos Angeles County

“We embarked on a strategic roadmap to transform all things HR into digital platforms — self-service HR [or] on-demand HR, if you will,” Masood says in the podcast, which was recorded in July at the OpenText Enterprise World user conference.

Masood added that he then was tapped to rethink the department’s workflows to slash the time it takes to complete common processes such as responding to HR complaints, civil service exams, workforce employee development and executive services.”

In the middle of that, the county’s long-used document management platform was acquired by a competitor, which precipitated the process of evaluating CMS vendors — and considering possible replacements — on top of the other updates to the documentation processes that were going on.

In the end, the massive enterprise decided to stay on Documentum and migrate slowly into the cloud instead of going the big-bang route. Why?

“Based on our size and the scale of the process, the business continuity aspect of it,” Masood said.

The Ability Hacks: The story of two hackathon teams embracing the transformative power of technology – Microsoft on the Issues

This week is the Microsoft One Week Hackathon, where employees from around the company work tirelessly to “hack” solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. The opportunity to empower people through technology, particularly those with disabilities, has never been more important. Back in 2014, we had 10 ability hack projects, last year we had 150 projects and 850 people, and this year – well, it’s going to be exciting to see. This is a wonderful testament to our employees and their passion for innovation and conviction in the importance of empowering every person and organization to achieve more.

An inspiration for many was two Ability Hack projects that won the company hackathon in 2014 and 2015, and this year we will be giving away copies to hackers of a new book covering the journeys of those hackathon teams. “The Ability Hacks” shares the behind-the-scenes stories of the hackers who pioneered two innovative hacks-turned-solutions used today by people with disabilities around the world – the Ability EyeGaze Hack team and Learning Tools Hack team.

The Ability Hacks book cover

We hope this book, and the journeys these teams have been on, can help spark a conversation about the transformative power of technology, and encourage engineers and developers to build the next wave of inclusive technology. I encourage you to read, and as a teaser, here are a few highlights:

EyeGaze: Reinstating independence by revolutionizing mobility

“Until there is a cure for ALS, technology can be that cure.” – Steve Gleason, former NFL player

In 2014, former NFL player Steve Gleason, who has a neuromuscular disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sent an email to Microsoft challenging employees to develop a technology that could allow him to drive a wheelchair with his eyes. A group of software engineers, program managers, marketers and advocates formed the Ability Eye Gaze hack team and accepted this challenge ahead of the 2014 Microsoft hackathon.

Through hard work, determination and despite a few twists and turns, the team collaborated to build a solution complete with duct tape that allowed Steve to control his wheelchair with his eyes. This invention had impact, ultimately inspiring the formation of the Microsoft Research NExT Enable team, who have continued working on technology for people with ALS and other disabilities. This has already resulted in a new feature named Eye Control, which was developed in collaboration with the Windows team, and was included in Windows 10 last year.

Learning Tools: Transforming education and learning in the classroom

“If you design things for the greatest accessibility – Learning Tools is like that – it makes everything accessible to all, and why wouldn’t we want that?” – A fourth-grade teacher

While Learning Tools involved a different set of players in a different part of Microsoft, its story shares the same lessons, opportunities, passion and impact experienced by the Eye Gaze team. Winner of the 2015 Hackathon, Learning Tools helps students with dyslexia learn how to read and is now transforming education for teachers, students, administrators and parents.

What’s amazing about this story was the diversity of the team, which included developers, a reading team and a speech pathologist, working extensively with students and educators to create the product. While originally created for folks with dyslexia, the Learning Tools team is seeing benefits to folks with dysgraphia, ADHD, English language learners and emerging readers. Today, Learning Tools is incorporated into apps, Office, and Edge, reaching 13 million active users in more than 40 languages. Like the Eye Gaze team before it, the Learning Tools team evolved from a passionate hackathon into a strategic business. You can even read “The Ability Hacks” using Learning Tools, just download the PDF and open in Microsoft Edge.

‘It’s not about the technology. It’s about the people.

As Peter Lee, corporate vice president, Microsoft Healthcare, shares in the book’s foreword, “A focus on inclusion helps a team become more empathetic with its users, which in turn affects deeply the design and development process of products.”

Personally, I go to work every day feeling humbled that I represent a company with an incredible mission to empower every person on the planet to achieve more. I’m grateful for the chance to share just a few of their stories in “The Ability Hacks.” Trust me, it’s two stories of many that have taken place over the last four years and there will be a lot more in our future.

While we’ve come a long way in incorporating accessibility and inclusivity in everything we do, the truth is that accessibility is a journey. There is more in front of us than behind us. Please read the book and join the conversation about inclusive technology design on Twitter via #abilityhacks. And if you want to create products for people with disabilities, do check out our AI for Accessibility program, which provides access to advanced Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to individuals and organizations working on empowering people with disability across the world at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai-for-accessibility.

“The Ability Hacks” is also available in PDF and EPUB.

Gotta go. Back to the hackathon tents. Can’t wait to see what folks create this year!

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