Tag Archives: developers

BP Logix BPM tool packs AI features in latest release

Low-code BPM development tools today already help developers simplify and speed up business process application development. The next step is to make those apps smarter.

To that end, BP Logix, a business process management (BPM) company in Vista, Calif., recently introduced version 5.0 of its Process Director that adds AI features to enable predictive analysis, enhanced UIs and journals for configurable collaboration.

Rather than present complex AI features, Process Director 5.0 offers a set of basic machine learning tools that the average app developer can use, such as a point-and-click graphical interfaces that guide configuration processes and display results of analytics, with no coding required.

Embedding intelligence into business applications requires specialized knowledge and teams of data scientists, said Charles Araujo, principal analyst for Intellyx, a consulting firm in Glens Falls, N.Y. Process Director 5.0’s blend of AI and low-code features brings predictive application processes to nontechnical users.

“The value Process Director 5.0 delivers is less about features, per se, and more about accessibility,” Araujo said.

AI inside

The AI tools inside Process Director 5.0 enable machine learning, sentiment analysis, capture and expression of dissimilar events and conditions in a single state and configurable collaboration. The company also added UI features for iterative list search, calendar views, and inline HTML and text editing.

“AI and machine learning create prediction models that have been missing from BPM,” said Neil Ward-Dutton, research director for MWD Advisors, a U.K.-based IT consulting firm. With AI, the application learns from past history, identifies trends and makes recommendations for decisions.

As an example, Ward-Dutton pointed to how AI capabilities can help with a loan request by identifying factors that make the applicant and the loan’s purpose a low or high risk. Combined data mining and machine learning tools aggregate information about previous loan applications and current market conditions to help the loan officer make a decision.

AI and machine learning create prediction models that have been missing from BPM platforms.
Neil Ward-Duttonresearch director, MWD Advisors

Araujo said he sees businesses with reliable data on actions and outcomes adopt AI-enabled, predictive-type applications quickly and with good results. Developers can use that legacy data to build models that predict behavior of application users who meet certain criteria and perform specific actions. With these functions, the tool recommends a best action and prioritizes options that are presented to the user, so the application feels more intuitive or takes actions automatically.

Applying AI for nontechnical users, even with accessible tools, requires a change in traditional BPM project approaches. Araujo said project teams will have to think like a data scientist.

“Applying intelligence to applications requires imagination,” he said. “Developers need to think about application usage patterns and imagine ways to use predictive capabilities to meet users’ needs.”

“That’s not the way we’ve historically approached applications, particularly business-process-based ones,” Araujo added.

Process Director 5.0 is generally available, with versions for both cloud and on premises. In addition to AI and low-code/no-code development tools, the platform includes traditional BPM capabilities for compliance automation, process modeling, multifactor authentication and other standard BPM features.

Cisco and Google deepen collaboration partnership

Developers from Cisco and Google have been working together to build native integrations between the Cisco Webex web conferencing and team collaboration platform and the productivity apps in G Suite. The partnership should help both vendors compete against rival Microsoft.

G Suite users will soon be able to schedule and join Webex meetings from Google Calendar with one click. The integration works on Cisco video conferencing hardware and within Google Chrome, without requiring downloads or guest accounts.

Cisco Webex Teams, which competes with Slack and Microsoft Teams, lets users collaborate in real time using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides — the G Suite equivalents of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. That eliminates the need for users to upload a revised version of a file to Webex Teams after every edit.

Developers, meanwhile, can add Cisco calling and meeting capabilities to Android apps using the Webex Teams Android software development kit. For example, a pair of augmented reality smart glasses could be connected to Webex, so the wearer can stream a video feed from the device into a web conference.

“While Google and Microsoft compete with full portfolios of personal productivity and team collaboration, Cisco only has the team collaboration elements,” said Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research, based in Cupertino, Calif. “So, deeper integration between Webex and Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive makes a lot of sense.”

Cisco and Google plan future integrations  

While Cisco’s collaboration portfolio also integrates with the productivity tools of Microsoft Office 365, those links are based on Microsoft’s public APIs. In contrast, Cisco and Google have been working directly together to create seamless connections between their portfolios.

Public APIs “tend to be semi-limiting at times,” said Sri Srinivasan, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s team collaboration group. “With Google, it looks like one between Google and Webex.”

Cisco and Google are currently exploring ways to use Google’s AI technology within Webex for tasks such as transcription, translation, meeting notes and project management. Cisco was also one of several vendors to adopt Google’s new AI platform for contact centers last month.

Amy Chang, who replaced Rowan Trollope as head of Cisco’s $5 billion collaboration technology group in May, worked at Google for seven years before founding relationship intelligence firm Accompany.

“For Cisco, it certainly makes a great deal of sense to expand these partnerships to improve their ability to compete with Microsoft,” said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. “Same for Google, who lacks the broad UC [unified communications] suite, video conferencing and contact center offerings that Cisco provides.”

Google expands presence in enterprise market

Google is working on additional Google Calendar integrations with the web conferencing vendors Arkadin, GoToMeeting, LogMeIn, Dialpad, RingCentral, Vidyo and Vonage. Google also recently made its online meetings platform, Hangouts Meet, interoperable with Microsoft Skype for Business and hardware from Cisco and Polycom.

At the same time that Google is tightening partnerships with Cisco and other vendors, the consumer tech giant has been building out its collaboration portfolio with products such as Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, a team collaboration app.

Last month, Google announced a beta program for a new enterprise telephony product based on WebRTC, called Google Voice for G Suite. If that platform proves successful, Google will be in a position to provide all of the core unified communications technologies that businesses require: voice, messaging and web conferencing.

It was surprising to see Google launch a stand-alone voice product, rather than position Google Voice as a virtual service within G Suite that could tie into existing enterprise telephony systems, Lazar said. The move could bring them into closer competition with Cisco, a leading provider of business telephony. 

Expert questions funds for interoperability challenges in healthcare

One expert says the $2 million in funding ONC is offering developers to address interoperability challenges in healthcare — although commendable — may not be enough.

“I applaud ONC for recognizing this challenge and making funds available for development of interoperability platforms and solutions,” said John McDaniel, senior vice president of innovation and technology for health IT consulting firm The HCI Group. “However, based on the work we have done with vendors that offer interoperability solutions, I don’t believe $2 million will address the issue.”

ONC funding offered in two areas

ONC will provide up to $2 million in funding to two recipients focused on developing innovative and breakthrough advances in two areas: expanding the scope of population-level data-focused application programming interfaces (APIs) and advancing clinical knowledge at the point of care, according to ONC.

For expanding the scale of APIs, ONC wants to see projects that reduce provider burdens associated with reporting through API technology, as well as assessing trade-offs associated with various big data formats and challenges to the scope of FHIR-based APIs.

As for advancing clinical knowledge at the point of care, ONC hopes to see “emerging innovations” in clinical medicine, as well as data-driven medicine infrastructure and legal and policy implications for innovative approaches, according to the ONC news release.

Additional funding may be available

ONC will fund up to $1 million per area of interest by 2019. After the funds are awarded, there will be a two-year project and budget period, but applicants are encouraged to submit responses based on a five-year project and budget period because additional funding for three to five years could be provided based on the availability of funds and “meaningful progress.”

Based on the work we have done with vendors that offer interoperability solutions, I don’t believe $2 million will address the issue.
John McDanielsenior vice president of innovation and technology, The HCI Group

The funding opportunity will be open for three years, allowing for the possibility that ONC will issue additional awards to other eligible applicants for future “priority areas of interest.”  

ONC expects the funding to “further a new generation of health IT development and inform the innovative implementation and refinement of standards, methods and techniques for overcoming major barriers and challenges as they are identified.” Though he questions whether $2 million will be enough to address interoperability challenges in healthcare, McDaniel said he has seen ONC be successful with similar initiatives in the past, such as establishing incentives to motivate healthcare organizations to implement EHRs, which enabled the digitization of patient care documentation.

The full scope of interoperability challenges in healthcare

Now, McDaniel said, the challenge is to enable full interoperability to not only digitize retrospective patient data, but to “capture and use real-time patient information coupled with cognitive computing to assist care providers with decision-making and best practices given the full view of all relevant patient data.”

“Developing interoperability between EHR’s is a good start, but since only a percentage of relevant retrospective patient data is maintained in those systems, we need to establish interoperability standards for dynamic exchange of data from all source systems, including IoT, EHR’s medical devices, personal health devices, etc., to enable precision and predictive care models,” McDaniel said.

Microsoft Azure Dev Spaces, Google Jib target Kubernetes woes

To entice developers to create more apps on their environments, major cloud platform companies will meet them where they live.

Microsoft and Google both released tools to help ease app development on their respective platforms, Microsoft Azure and the Google Cloud Platform. Microsoft’s Azure Dev Spaces and Google Jib help developers build applications for the Kubernetes container orchestrator and Java environments and represent a means to deliver simpler, developer-friendly technology.

Microsoft’s Azure Dev Spaces, now in public preview, is a cloud-native development environment for the company’s Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), where developers can work on applications while connected with the cloud and their team. These users can build cloud applications with containers and microservices on AKS and do not deal with any infrastructure management or orchestration, according to Microsoft.

As Kubernetes further commoditizes deployment and orchestration, cloud platform vendors and public cloud providers must focus on how to simplify customers’ implementation of cloud-native development methods — namely DevOps, CI/CD and microservices, said Rhett Dillingham, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy in Austin, Texas.

“Azure Dev Spaces has the potential to be one of Microsoft’s most valuable recent developer tooling innovations, because it addresses the complexity of integration testing and debugging in microservices environments,” he said.

Edwin Yuen, analyst, Enterprise Strategy GroupEdwin Yuen

With the correct supporting services, developers can fully test and deploy in Microsoft Azure, added Edwin Yuen, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

“This would benefit the developer, as it eases the process of container development by allowing them to see the results of their app without having to set up a Docker or Kubernetes environment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Google’s Jib containerizer tool enables developers to package a Java application into a container image with the Java tools they already know to create container-based advanced applications. And like Azure Dev Spaces, it handles a lot of the underlying infrastructure and orchestration tasks.

It’s about simplifying the experience … the developer is eased into the process by using existing tools and eliminating the need to set up Docker or Kubernetes.
Edwin Yuenanalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

Integration with Java development tools Maven and Gradle means Java developers can skip the step to create JAR, or Java ARchive, files and then containerize them, Yuen said.

“Like Azure Dev Spaces, it’s about simplifying the experience — this time, not the laptop jump, but the jump from JAR to container,” he said. “But, again, the developer is eased into the process by using existing tools and eliminating the need to set up Docker or Kubernetes.”

Jib also extends Google’s association with the open source community to provide Java developers an easy path to containerize their apps while using the Google Cloud Platform, Yuen added.

‘These are employees you want’: Special Olympics job fair is a win for athletes, region – On the Issues

“When our developers have that interaction with a person with a disability, it can be very eye opening for them to see that maybe they were not meeting the bar they thought they were,” says Chinyere Samuelson, a JPMorgan Chase accessibility lead. “But once they have that experience, it opens a door. Most developers are all about the challenge, and this allows them to start owning the responsibility for making something that is accessible to everyone.”

Photo of people standing in front of a T Mobile sign that says What Makes You Different Makes You Awesome
Puget Sound employers recruited new talent at Microsoft’s recent inclusive hiring job fair, including Accenture, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, AT&T, Department of Services for the Blind, EY, Facebook, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., LinkedIn, Northwest Center, Skills Inc., Starbucks, T-Mobile, VR-Net and the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Bakhru says national events like the Special Olympics USA Games have the power to showcase all the things that people with disabilities can achieve. But their life skills extend far beyond the basketball court or gymnastics mat.

“People with disabilities can represent some of your best talent pool because they have skills that they’ve had to develop throughout their lives, like problem solving and leadership and time management,” says Bakhru. “There is a very high percentage of people with disabilities who are capable of working but are unemployed simply because of misperceptions or biases.”

Participants in the Special Olympics USA Games job fair are already working to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Corporate partners across Puget Sound and nationally have already stepped up to the plate with robust inclusive hiring and supported employment programs, says Beth Knox, President and CEO of the 2018 Games.

“Being a part of the employment solution is a significant priority for all of us,” says Knox. “It’s part of the bigger cultural shift we’re focused on to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities are seen and valued as contributing members of our community. Employment plays a major role in that.”

Harper, in the governor’s office, loves working — citing the money she earns and the independence it affords to the people she gets to interact with every day. She recently asked to increase her hours from 15 to 19 hours a week, which the governor’s office was happy to accommodate.

“I love my job. I just love it. Meeting new people and interacting in different activities is really fun,” Harper says. “I was so excited and happy when I got the job in the governor’s office. It was my dream.”

New Apple Health Records API may make a PHR app easier

Apple’s decision to open its Health Records API to developers could jump-start the market for truly personalized healthcare applications. But experts warned the announcement is just the first step in a lengthy process of electronic and personal health record integration, and significant challenges — from privacy issues to interoperability — remain.

At a time of rising consumer demand for increased control of and access to personal health records (PHR), Apple is the first major player to offer an open API. And this is just the latest of the company’s moves into the health IT space. For some, this step could be a game changer.

Wolfram Kerl, CTO at Munich-based Smartpatient, was an early user of Apple’s new Health Records API in the company’s MyTherapy medication management PHR app.

“Until today, healthcare IT and health apps have been largely separate worlds, only talking to each other in proprietary environments,” Kerl explained in an email. “With the introduction of Health Records early this year, Apple started connecting iPhones to clinical systems using the FHIR [Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources] industry standard. Now, by opening the API, developers for the first time can implement patient use cases with electronic health records, while getting access to a potentially huge installed base.”

Go custom or go home

This means developers now have the opportunity to easily create a customized PHR app, which is a big departure from the one-size-fits-all strategy in use today, said John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research, based in Boston.

With Apple doing all the legwork to connect the different hospitals, we can focus our developers on the patient’s user experience.
Wolfram KerlCTO at Smartpatient

“The open API is going to enable a longitudinal patient record, and that creates an opportunity for precision medicine using digital tools,” Moore said. “When you have an opportunity to look at individual records and know social determinants and a number of other factors, I think the applications can use that record to help guide you to a much richer experience, and one that’s personalized to your individual health situation.”

To look at it from a slightly different perspective, consumers want to interact with their health data as easily as they shop online. The new API could help give a PHR app that retail feel, Kerl said. “With Apple doing all the legwork to connect the different hospitals, we can focus our developers on the patient’s user experience.”

But will a personalized PHR app be sufficiently secure? Apple’s announcement indicated the company won’t access or store personal health data shared with any apps created from the Health Record API. Instead, sensitive information will remain on an individual’s iPhone. That’s no guarantee an application is HIPAA-compliant, however.

An iPhone with an image of a personalized healthcare application.
Apple offers the potential to personalize health apps using the new Health Records API.

“In the wake of Facebook data concerns, consumers and developers alike need to be cautious and put safeguards in place when it comes to consumer data,” warned Arielle Trzcinski, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. “There’s really sensitive information in there. People need to proceed with caution.”

Proceed with caution toward PHR apps and perhaps a good dose of patience, Kerl advised. This is just a small step toward solving the massive interoperability issues in the healthcare world.

“Healthcare IT is full of interoperability problems. And, so far, the Health Records API just gets data from the hospital to the patient,” he said. “The next frontier is the patient using this data with other providers, too. So, while the Health Records API does nothing to directly solve interoperability problems, it does provide a significant incentive for the healthcare industry to commit to FHIR and tackle the obstacles that still remain.”

Microsoft to acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion | Stories

Acquisition will empower developers, accelerate GitHub’s growth and advance Microsoft services with new audiences

Chris Wanstrath, Satya Nadella and Nat Friedman
From left: Chris Wanstrath, Github CEO and co-founder; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services

REDMOND, Wash. — June 4, 2018 Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it has reached an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform where more than 28 million developers learn, share and collaborate to create the future. Together, the two companies will empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects — and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub’s current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives.

“I’m extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality,” Wanstrath said. “Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere.”

Today, every company is becoming a software company and developers are at the center of digital transformation; they drive business processes and functions across organizations from customer service and HR to marketing and IT. And the choices these developers make will increasingly determine value creation and growth across every industry. GitHub is home for modern developers and the world’s most popular destination for open source projects and software innovation. The platform hosts a growing network of developers in nearly every country representing more than 1.5 million companies across healthcare, manufacturing, technology, financial services, retail and more.

Upon closing, Microsoft expects GitHub’s financials to be reported as part of the Intelligent Cloud segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition will be accretive to operating income in fiscal year 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, and to have minimal dilution of less than 1 percent to earnings per share in fiscal years 2019 and 2020 on a non-GAAP basis, based on the expected close time frame. Non-GAAP excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments, as well as integration and transaction-related expenses. An incremental share buyback, beyond Microsoft’s recent historical quarterly pace, is expected to offset stock consideration paid within six months after closing. Microsoft will use a portion of the remaining ~$30 billion of its current share repurchase authorization for the purchase.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Microsoft. Morgan Stanley is acting as exclusive financial advisor to GitHub, while Fenwick & West LLP is acting as its legal advisor.

Media & Analyst Conference Call

Nadella, Friedman, Wanstrath and Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood will host a joint conference call for media today, June 4, 2018, at 7 a.m. Pacific/10 a.m. Eastern to discuss this transaction. The call will be available to international callers at +1 (201) 689-8023 (no password required), to U.S. callers at (877) 407-0666 (no password required), or via webcast at https://edge.media-server.com/m6/p/eudfciq3 at that time. More information is available on http://news.microsoft.com.

Additional details will be available when the acquisition closes.

About GitHub

GitHub is the developer company. We make it easier for developers to be developers: to work together, to solve challenging problems, to create the world’s most important technologies. We foster a collaborative community that can come together — as individuals and in teams — to create the future of software and make a difference in the world.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,

rrt@we-worldwide.com 

Forward looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which are any predictions, projections or other statements about future events based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, that the expected financial and other benefits from the GitHub transaction may not be realized, including because of: the risk that the transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all; any restrictions or limitations imposed by regulatory authorities; the impact of the acquisition on GitHub’s developer community and enterprise customers; the extent to which we achieve anticipated financial and buyback targets; the impact of management and organizational changes on GitHub’s business; the impact on GitHub employees and our ability to retain key personnel; our effectiveness in integrating the GitHub platform and operations with Microsoft’s business; and our ability to realize our broader strategic and operating objectives. Actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements because of these and other risks and uncertainties of our business, which are described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including our Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Microsoft undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Developers set to build AI for Accessibility apps

Software developers have responded favorably to Microsoft’s push for responsible computing and the ethical use of artificial intelligence technology.

The AI for Accessibility program is a $25 million, five-year effort to promote the development of AI applications for more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide. It consists of grants and investments for developers who create innovative AI apps for the disabled to run on the Microsoft Azure cloud.

“Just like with good user experience and UI, we need good AI,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his keynote speech at the recent Microsoft Build conference. “We need to make this a first-class engineering discipline where the choices that we make can be good choices for our future.”

AI apps to improve lives

Microsoft hopes the AI for Accessibility program will generate applications that use AI to help blind, deaf or autistic people better communicate. At Build, Microsoft demonstrated how a deaf employee could better participate in meetings with the real-time transcription capabilities enabled by the company’s AI services. Other Microsoft technologies that could help developers build accessibility apps include the Microsoft Bot Framework, Microsoft Conversational AI tools, cognitive services in Azure Search and prebuilt models for speech, text and computer vision.

Rocky Lhotka, MagenicRocky Lhotka

Magenic, a software development shop in St. Louis Park, Minn., wants to build apps with AI to improve the lives of users, and includes those with disabilities, said Rockford “Rocky” Lhotka, Magenic’s CTO.

“Sometimes [our] software is fairly run-of-the-mill business software. Sometimes it is part of a solution that has direct impact on making people’s lives better in big or small ways,” he said. “When you get to work on a project that makes people’s lives better, that’s amazingly rewarding.”

Lhotka has a personal interest in this initiative. Two years ago he underwent a surgical procedure with what doctors told him was a 15% chance he’d be partially paralyzed. Fortunately, that did not happen, but it got him to think about how technology and software can be an equalizer in life.

“Something like partial paralysis often ends people’s lives as they know them,” he said. “With technology, though, there’s the very real possibility of people with severe medical conditions living life at a level they never could without those technologies.”

I want InterKnowlogy to stop building software for the company that is killing the world with cheeseburgers and start building more software that helps humanity … but I have to keep the lights on with ‘normal’ work.
Tim Huckabyfounder and chairman, InterKnowlogy

By providing seed grants to many people, the Microsoft program creates opportunities for new projects, devices and services that might not have otherwise been created.

“These technologies can be transformed to help solve general accessibility, transportation, communication problems and more,” said Kathleen Walch, an analyst at Cognilytica in Ellicott City, Md. She cited the impact of smart assistants to help those with hearing impairments communicate, and self-driving cars that one day will help transport the visually impaired.

New tools, support and therapies, such as a virtual assistant nurse, will help people with mental health conditions, and help doctors better diagnose and treat those patients.

InterKnowlogy, a software company in Carlsbad, Calif., also plans to develop AI apps for accessibility. In fact, AI for Accessibility just ought to be a $250 million program, said Tim Huckaby, founder and chairman of the company.

“I’d be willing to pivot the InterKnowlogy business to this if I could keep the lights on doing it,” Huckaby said. “I want InterKnowlogy to stop building software for the company that is killing the world with cheeseburgers and start building more software that helps humanity. We have done ‘projects of ethics’ for years. But, I have to keep the lights on with ‘normal’ work.”

Is AI ready for accessibility?

However, observers question whether the technology is mature enough to affect real change or whether it can only offer incremental help.

“So much of the AI-driven technology that Satya highlighted is going to radically transform the lives of so many people,” said Theresa Lanowitz, an analyst at Voke in Minden, Nev. “However, it will take a decade or more to create the technology, prove it beyond demos, and vet and test it across multiple regulatory agencies.”

When we see critical mass of use and the price drops, it will be earth-shattering, she said. “Until then, we just have to wait.”

Microsoft Build highlights new opportunity for developers, at the edge and in the cloud

Announcing new innovations that help developers build AI and multidevice, multisense experiences, and new $25M AI for Accessibility program

REDMOND, Wash. — May 7, 2018 — Monday at Microsoft Build 2018, Microsoft Corp.’s annual developer conference, Microsoft leaders showcased new technologies to help every developer be an AI developer, on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and across any platform. Building for AI is more important to developers than ever, as technology continues to change the way people live and work every day, across the cloud and across edge devices.

“The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “These advancements create incredible developer opportunity and also come with a responsibility to ensure the technology we build is trusted and benefits all.”

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to trusted, responsible AI products and practices, the company also today announced AI for Accessibility, a new $25 million, five-year program aimed at harnessing the power of AI to amplify human capabilities for more than 1 billion people around the world with disabilities. The program comprises grants, technology investments and expertise, and will also incorporate AI for Accessibility innovations into Microsoft Cloud services. It builds on the success of the similar AI for Earth initiative.

Advancements in the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud

Smart devices are proliferating in homes and businesses across the globe, with more than 20 billion expected by 2020. These devices are so smart, in fact, they are powering advanced ways to see, listen, reason and predict, without constant connectivity to the cloud. That is the intelligent edge, and it is opening opportunities for consumers, businesses and entire industries, from the operating room to the factory floor. Today Microsoft is announcing new capabilities for developers to extend to the edge:

  • Microsoft is open sourcing the Azure IoT Edge Runtime, allowing customers to modify, debug and have more transparency and control for edge applications.
  • Custom Vision will now run on Azure IoT Edge, enabling devices such as drones and industrial equipment to take critical action quickly without requiring cloud connectivity. This is the first Azure Cognitive Service to support edge deployment, with more coming to Azure IoT Edge over the next several months.
  • DJI, the world’s biggest drone company, is partnering with Microsoft to create a new SDK for Windows 10 PCs, and it has also selected Azure as its preferred cloud provider to further its commercial drone and SaaS solutions. The SDK will bring full flight control and real-time data transfer capabilities to nearly 700M Windows 10 connected devices globally. As part of the commercial partnership, DJI and Microsoft will co-develop solutions leveraging Azure IoT Edge and Microsoft’s AI services to enable new scenarios across agriculture, construction, public safety and more.
  • Microsoft announced a joint effort with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to create a vision AI developer kit running Azure IoT Edge. This solution makes available the key hardware and software required to develop camera-based IoT solutions. Developers can create solutions that use Azure Machine Learning services and take advantage of the hardware acceleration available via the Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform and Qualcomm® AI Engine. The camera can also power advanced Azure services, such as machine learning, stream analytics and cognitive services, that can be downloaded from the cloud to run locally on the edge.

Data and AI development for a new era

Using data, machine learning and cognitive intelligence, developers can build and manage AI-rich solutions that transform the ways people work, collaborate and live:

  • Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure, a package of sensors, including our next-generation depth camera, with onboard compute designed for AI on the Edge. Building on Kinect’s legacy that has lived on through HoloLens, Project Kinect for Azure empowers new scenarios for developers working with ambient intelligence. Combining Microsoft’s industry-defining Time of Flight sensor with additional sensors all in a small, power-efficient form factor, Project Kinect for Azure will leverage the richness of Azure AI to dramatically improve insights and operations. It can input fully articulated hand tracking and high-fidelity spatial mapping, enabling a new level of precision solutions.
  • A Speech Devices SDK announced today delivers superior audio processing from multichannel sources for more accurate speech recognition, including noise cancellation, far-field voice and more. With this, developers can build a variety of voice-enabled scenarios like drive-thru ordering systems, in-car or in-home assistants, smart speakers, and other digital assistants.
  • Azure Cosmos DB updates include new and differentiated multimaster at global scale capabilities, designed to support both the cloud and the edge, along with the VNET general availability for increased security. With these new updates, Cosmos DB delivers even greater cost-effectiveness and global scale, further cementing it as the fastest-growing database service in the world.
  • A preview of Project Brainwave, an architecture for deep neural net processing, is now available on Azure and on the edge. Project Brainwave makes Azure the fastest cloud to run real-time AI and is now fully integrated with Azure Machine Learning. It also supports Intel FPGA hardware and ResNet50-based neural networks.
  • New Azure Cognitive Services updates include a unified Speech service with improved speech recognition and text-to-speech, which support customized voice models and translation. Along with Custom Vision, these updates make it easier for any developer to add intelligence to their applications.
  • Microsoft is making Azure the best place to develop conversational AI experiences integrated with any agent. New updates to Bot Framework and Cognitive Services will power the next generation of conversational bots enabling richer dialogs, and full personality and voice customization to match the company’s brand identity.
  • A preview of Azure Search with Cognitive Services integration. This new feature combines AI with indexing technologies so it’s possible to quickly find information and insights, whether via text or images.

Multisense and multidevice experiences

Microsoft also demonstrated mixed-reality capabilities to enable richer experiences that understand the context surrounding people, the things they use, their activities and relationships:

  • A new initiative, Project Kinect for Azure — a package of sensors from Microsoft that contains our unmatched time of flight depth camera, with onboard compute, in a small, power-efficient form factor — designed for AI on the Edge. Project Kinect for Azure brings together this leading hardware technology with Azure AI to empower developers with new scenarios for working with ambient intelligence.
  • With Microsoft Remote Assist, customers can collaborate remotely with heads-up, hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations. Firstline Workers can share what they see with any expert on Microsoft Teams, while staying hands on to solve problems and complete tasks together, faster.
  • With Microsoft Layout, customers can design spaces in context with mixed reality. Import 3-D models to create room layouts in real-world scale, experience designs as high-quality holograms in physical space or in virtual reality, and share and edit with stakeholders in real time.

Modern tooling and experiences for any platform in any language

Microsoft is empowering developers to build for the new era of the intelligent edge, across Azure, Microsoft 365 and other platforms, using the languages and frameworks of their choice:

  • With Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), developers can drastically simplify how they build and run container-based solutions without deep Kubernetes experience. Generally available in the coming weeks, AKS integrates with developer tools and workspaces, DevOps capabilities, networking, monitoring tools, and more in the Azure portal, so developers can write code, not stitch services together. In addition, Microsoft is now offering Kubernetes support for Azure IoT Edge devices.
  • Visual Studio IntelliCode is a new capability that enhances everyday software development with the power of AI. IntelliCode provides intelligent suggestions to improve code quality and productivity and is available in preview today in Visual Studio.
  • Visual Studio Live Share, now in preview, lets developers easily and securely collaborate in real time with team members who can edit and debug directly from their existing tools like Visual Studio 2017 and VS Code. Developers can use Live Share with any language for any scenario, including serverless, cloud-native and IoT development.
  • Building on our shared commitment to developers and open source, Microsoft announced a new partnership with GitHub that brings the power of Azure DevOps services to GitHub customers. Today, we released the integration of Visual Studio App Center and GitHub, which provides GitHub developers building apps for iOS and Android devices to seamlessly automate DevOps processes right from within the GitHub experience.
  • Available today, the new Microsoft Azure Blockchain Workbench makes it easier to develop blockchain applications by stitching together an Azure-supported blockchain network with cloud services like Azure Active Directory, Key Vault and SQL Database, reducing proof-of-concept development time dramatically.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

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