Tag Archives: technology

Live from Bett: What’s new in EDU– Change within the Microsoft Educator Center and fostering future-ready skills in students | | Microsoft EDU

It’s Day 2 of Bett and we’re back, ready to share the latest innovations in education technology and helping you get you started using the new tools and resources we announced last week. You can tune in live to watch special episodes of “What’s new in EDU” each day of Bett at 5:00PM Local London time or noon EST and 9 am PT. Here’s where you go on Thursday  and Friday. In our episode yesterday, we talked about choosing and managing devices and various ways educators can help students strengthen their communication and collaboration skills while using free tools like Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams. If you missed that episode, you can check it out here

Today we want to show you how to create learning experiences that inspire creativity, deepen student engagement and develop high-level cognitive skills. And we’ll tell you about free resources you can use to ensure your students are developing the future-ready skills they need to be prepared for success in college and careers.   

In this episode we’ll show you how:  

  • You can help teachers adopt new technology with free teacher training online in the improved Microsoft Educator Center and from Microsoft Stores
  • You can access STEM Lessons from Discovery Education directly from within Teams using the new Discovery Education app for Teams 
  • You can inspire creativity and professional skills for the Windows Video Editor 
  • Coming soon: You can teach students how to code using Python with Minecraft: Education Edition and Microsoft MakeCode 
  • You can use Minecraft to develop social-emotional skills like digital citizenship and mindfulness

 

Microsoft Educator Center 

We’re introducing an updated and improved MEC. The Microsoft Educator Center is a platform designed to address the needs of educators. It’s a digital hub where you can find free content, training and support to help you use technology effectively and drive improved student outcomes. 

The MEC is home to innovative courses and resources built by teachers for teachers. You can earn badges, go deep on topics through learning paths, build your transcript and grow your expertise. It’s a resource to help you gain new skills related to bringing technology into the classroom, fostering student-center learning, developing future ready skills, creating inclusive and accessible environments and more. Check out the new MEC experience here

STEM and CS 

We’re excited to announce that Discovery Education– the global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms– is releasing a new app for Microsoft Teams, the digital hub for bringing classroom content, conversations, assignments and apps together. If you’re using Discovery Education’s high-quality, digital resources for instruction, we know you’ll be thrilled to see those materials available within Microsoft Teams. This integration will save you time, help keep your classes organized, and provide greater opportunities to collaborate with your students and colleagues. 

You’ll be able to access Discovery Education’s rich, standards-aligned STEM, Science, Math, Social Studies content and more from within Teams from your device and, connect to the largest educator community of its kind, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN), and very soon, share content with students as an assignment within Teams. We’ll have more to come on that, so keep an eye on our Microsoft Educator Center for training opportunities. And check out the steps below for how to get started. 


MakeCode News 

We’re excited to announce the release of Microsoft MakeCode Arcade for general availability. Microsoft MakeCode Arcade is a new online game development environment for simple, visually appealing 2D sprite-based games. Students use drag-and-drop blocks or JavaScript to design and build games and collaborate with friends. Microsoft MakeCode is an open source, free platform for creating inclusive computer science learning experiences that support a progression from blocks to real-world text-based programming. Educators around the world have been using MakeCode for the micro:bit or MakeCode with Minecraft to introduce computing concepts into their classrooms.  


We are thrilled to have this new member of the Microsoft MakeCode family in MakeCode Arcade. It’s a great next step up from MakeCode for micro:bit, a development environment that’s popular with educators and students just starting off with coding. The early feedback from MakeCode Arcade Beta users has been positive. Educators say they’re finding MakeCode Arcade to be a draw for diverse learners, and that students love designing their own characters and bringing special effects and music into their games. For those ready to give MakeCode Arcade a try, you can find the latest updates on free curriculum resources here. And you and your students can get started now with this free tutorial here. No login needed! 

And in another exciting MakeCode development, we are thrilled to announce that MakeCode will support the Python programming language alongside support for JavaScript and Blocks. Python is a widely used programming language in education and data science, and we heard from many computer science teachers around the world, that they would like to see MakeCode support for Python.  


Minecraft: Education Edition 

Computational thinking is a vital skill to develop in students as we prepare them for the workplace, especially since the vast majority of future jobs will require digital skills. Teachers can introduce computer science to students of all ages with Minecraft: Education Editionwhich also now supports the Python programming language for MakeCode alongside JavaScript and block-based coding.

From easy Hour of Code tutorials to Computer Science curriculum based on CSTA standards, Minecraft offers all you need to teach coding across the STEM curriculum. Download a free coding demo lesson here for all Windows, Mac, and iPad users—no login required.

In addition to developing STEM skills, students are building social-emotional competencies with Minecraft: Education Edition. A new set of SEL lessons for Minecraft: Education Edition offers special lessons and immersive Minecraft worlds to help educators teach these skills and create inclusive classrooms. Discover the Mindful Knight—an interactive world that introduces mindfulness and self-regulation—and lessons on digital citizenship and empathy.

Curious what else Minecraft offers? Now you can access more than 200 lessons and 50 build challenges with the new and improved in-game Library. Whether you teach history, math, language arts, technology, or biology, Minecraft is an effective tool for engaging students in immersive project-based learning across the curriculum. Check out this story from educators in Ireland and learn how to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition in your school here.

STEM Lesson Plans

Microsoft Hacking STEM is a collection of free, standards-aligned lesson plans that bring project-based learning to the classroom using inexpensive, everyday materials.    

In November 2019, the world celebrated the 20-year anniversary of humans living aboard the International Space Station. To inspire and engage students, Microsoft Education and NASA have partnered and developed eight new lesson plans focused around the complex issues to think about when living in space. The collection of middle and high school materials connects core academic concepts with hands-on experiences. Students are challenged to design in 3D, analyze data, build sensors, and use virtual reality and work with machine learning and AI while engaging in discussions about living in space. 

We are also excited to share that  Carolina Biological Supply Company is launching three new classroom kits to support projects from the NASA collection. These projects include:  

  • Designing Astro Socks to protect astronauts’ feet in microgravity: This project has students investigating solutions to reduce the impact of working in microgravity on the astronauts’ feet.  
  • What is the electromagnetic spectrum: This asks students to measure radiation in our environment and examine the light waves and frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum. Students use sensors to capture live data and relate their observations about life in space to their own on Earth.  
  • Using materials science engineering to determine heat resistance: This asksstudents to explore the properties of different heat shield construction materials to protect crew and cargo returning from the International Space Station from the heat generated during the capsule’s descent.   

These kits will be available on the Carolinawebsite soon. We hope you leverage these resources to inspire, educate and engage your students.    

Data Streamer

The Excel Data Streamer provides students with a simple way to bring data from the physical world in and out of Excel’s powerful digital canvas. With a sensor connected to a microcontroller that is attached to Excel, you can introduce students to the emerging worlds of data science and the internet of things.  

We are continuing to add key STEM Partners that support streaming of real time data in Excel using the Data Streamer Add-in. At Bett, Vernier, Pasco and Sphero are showcasing new applications integrated with Excel. This will enable educators to use their existing professional sensors and probes with Excel and modernize their classrooms with live data to transform how students model modern scientific and engineering practices.  

An innovation story 

We love hearing stories about educators who use new tech tools in innovative ways to inform instruction and improve teaching and learning. One such story is that of Assistant Principal Lauren Taylor of Manitou Park Elementary School in Tacoma, Washington. She used Microsoft PowerApps, which allows you to build your own mobile apps using templates, to create an app for her school that helps teachers input and evaluate student reading assessment data. Read more about Lauren’s inspiring story here.  

New and immersive tools 

HoloLens 2 is now available and bringing immersive mixed-reality experiences to colleges, universities, and K-12 classrooms. Educators are turning to this new tool to enhance key experiences in areas such as life sciences and career and technical education. Some of the upgrades to the new HoloLens include an increased field of view and an enhanced ability to see intricate details on 3D images.  

Some examples of HoloLens in use in educational settings include Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, where students use it in anatomy classes. You can learn more about that here. And we’ve seen exciting examples of the HoloLens bringing lessons to life with younger students as well. Ewout Warringa recently offered insights into how he uses it to teach construction and technology coursework to 13- to 17-year-old students in the Netherlands in this inspiring blog post

And if you want to read up on various ways to bring immersive experiences to education and the potential benefits, please check out this white paper we previously released on the subject. 

New 3D Models in Windows and Office 

We are excited to announce we now have more than 600 new 3D education models available in Office 365 Education and Paint3D, a built-in creative app that comes with Windows 10. You read that right—more than 600!  

To learn more about how you can insert 3D models directly into Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook on Windows and macOS, please check out this post. It’s relatively easy. You insert 3D models much like you insert other images.  

3D models can enhance lessons in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, the humanities and more. Research has shown that providing 3D visualization for students can lead to greater understanding around shapes and spatial relationships. 

Inspiring Creativity and offering new ways for students to share what they know 


Video Editor 
 

We have updates to Video Editor that we know you and your students will enjoy. Video Editor for Windows 10 is our full-featured set of video creation and editing tools for digital storytelling, and it’s free with every Windows 10 device. Students love to use it to create films with background music, text effects, 3D models and special effects. Now with Video Editor you can: 

  • Split video clips into two or more segments for easier editing 
  • Back up projects to share with peers and teachers, create templates, and import projects in progress to create a more efficient workflow 
  • Add content to your video project directly from Bing image search with Creative Commons licenses as captions  
  • Speed up and slow down video clips to create slow motion or time lapse content  
  • Rotate photos and videos between landscape and portrait for easier use in your projects
  • Have card thumbnails for a video project that reflect edits a user has done to that specific card  

If you haven’t tried Video Editor yet, look for it in your Start Menu or search for “Video.” And check out this guide for more details on how to get started using this creative tool. 

Up Next… 

Thanks for checking out our latest episode of What’s New in EDU, live from Bett. We hope you got some useful information about teacher training, bringing STEM resources into your classroom and ideas for boosting future-ready skills in your students. Please join us tomorrow live from Bett when we’ll look closely at specific ways to foster inclusion and accessibility in the classroom with the help of new ed tech resources. As always, share your feedback with us on Twitter by tagging @MicrosoftEDU! And be sure to sign up for the Microsoft Educator Newsletter here. 

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Students ‘will use tech to embrace seamless learning’

The next decade will see a shift in how children are taught in schools, with technology helping young people and teachers place a greater emphasis on learning outside the classroom.

That’s the view of Anthony Salcito, Vice-President of Education at Microsoft, who delivered a keynote speech at the annual Bett educational technology conference in London on Wednesday.

Salcito said that students today were increasingly keen to start having an impact the world, and are using technology to develop their own ways of learning that fit in with their personal lives. Rather than using tech for the sake of it, more young people were using it to learn new skills and collaborate. That will see teachers and their pupils working more closely together to extend education from hour-long, classroom-based lessons into any place, at any time, on any device.

“I think a big theme of the next decade is technology that enables schools to act as a learning hub, a central place for education, but the focus is on the rest of a student’s learning pathway, not just what happens in the classroom,” Salcito said.

“When you think about the three big investments that schools make, they’re constantly thinking about what’s happening with instruction in the classroom, what’s happening with the operations of their school, and also learning beyond the classroom. Over the past few decades, the focus has been heavily weighted on the classroom experience. I think we will see a shift, where schools will create a foundation of inclusive, flexible, data-driven buildings and spaces that will enable students to learn beyond those walls.”

Anthony Salcito speaks on stage at BETT
Anthony Salcito delivers his keynote at Bett

Salcito’s keynote at Bett, an event attended by 850 companies and nearly 35,000 people, was interspersed with talks from Barbara Holzapfel, General Manager of Education Marketing at Microsoft, and Daniel McDuff, a Principal Researcher at the company.

Holzapfel pointed to upcoming research Microsoft has conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit. It showed teachers understood the value of social and emotional learning. Technology could “help students and teachers connect”, she said.

Salcito pointed to two Microsoft tools that are already helping teachers and their students work better together – and apart.

PowerPoint Live is allowing young people to remotely log into an interactive presentation delivered by an educator. That can be automatically translated into more than 60 languages with a transcript that can be studied after the lesson has finished.

Meanwhile, Teams is helping entire classes collaborate while they are at home and in the classroom, allowing them to personalise their learning and get what they need, when they need it.

Barbara Holzapfel, General Manager of Education Marketing at Microsoft, speaks on stage at BETT
Barbara Holzapfel spoke about Microsoft’s latest education research

Rather than feel under threat from technology, teachers will be crucial in this new world of always-on learning, both Salcito and Holzapfel stated.

“Technology is changing the world,” he said. “The way in which we work and the jobs we will need are becoming far more dynamic; new careers are being invented and created, while existing careers are changing. We, as people, have got to be nimble and constantly adjust, too.

“That’s why educators are so important and why we need innovative teachers. The need for schools to get students ready to fundamentally change the world is in progress. What we want educators to do is not be bound by the structure of a 40-minute lecture, classroom dynamic or assessment that’s connected to a curriculum, but recognise their goal and mission to expand upon every student’s potential.

“The best innovation that inspires most young people is the teacher.”

Teachers across the world are facing increased workloads and pressure. The UK government recently announced an increase in starting salaries for those joining the profession in England in a bid to attract more graduates into classrooms. In Microsoft’s upcoming research, nearly 70 percent of teachers cited time constraints as their biggest hurdle to providing more personalized content to their students. It revealed technology can help clear away those obstacles by freeing up as much as 30 percent of teachers’ time, so they can spend more time responding to individual and group needs.

Microsoft stand at BETT
Microsoft is a worldwide partner of Bett

Salcito said those in charge of schools and education systems need to shift their focus from tests and grades to helping young people learn in a way that will help them build the right skills for the future. All jobs will use technology in some way, he added, whether it’s a lawyer using artificial intelligence to scan through large amounts of text, or a painter selling their artwork online.

“We need to recognise that every student learns differently and has different aspirations and accessibility needs,” he said. “Personalised learning can unleash an individual to be their best, to connect their passions, energy, talents, interests, their special needs, to make their learning journey unique and untethered by the bounds of classrooms, schedules and the curriculum.

“We’ve got to shift our focus away from supporting and progressing the system, to elevating the potential of all our children. That’s what technology is able to do. I think we’ve got to celebrate that shift, and remember that leaders need to shift their thinking and ask different questions about what’s possible.”

Salcito’s speech came on the first day of Bett, which runs for four days at the ExCeL. Microsoft is a worldwide partner of the event, with a large stand showcasing its work in digital skills and coding, as well as Surface, third-party devices designed for the classroom, and Minecraft: Education Edition.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

GumGum uses machine learning annotation service Figure Eight

GumGum developed computer vision and NLP technology to help clients better advertise to their users.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based vendor, founded in 2008, automatically scans video, audio, images and text on webpages, identifying and extracting key elements. It then uses that data to help advertisers place relevant ads on the webpages.

To power its machine learning and computer vision technology, GumGum needs a lot of training data. To meet its data needs, about two years ago the company turned to Figure Eight, a crowdsourcing machine learning annotation vendor.

Acquired by Appen, another crowdsourcing machine learning annotation company, in April 2019, Figure Eight provides training data to a variety of similar vendors. Figure Eight relies on a network of contributors to annotate huge amounts of data.

The contributors are trained, although they are mostly not data scientists, and are screened for security purposes. Their large contributor network enables Figure Eight to train data at scale, as well as continue to review annotated data while a job is running.

Getting training data

Before using Figure Eight, GumGum employed full-time staff for machine learning annotation, said Erica Nishimura, data curator  at GumGum. That worked, but it was costly and, at times, slow. With large amounts of data, it could take months to get useable training data. Besides, the staff could only work in English, but GumGum has clients internationally.

Figure Eight, machine learning annotation
Figure Eight uses a contributor network to provide training data for companies like GumGum

Figure Eight, meanwhile, works in a number of languages. At the time, Nishimura said, it was one of the only companies that worked in Japanese. As GumGum has a thriving Japanese division, the language support was one of the main reasons it chose Figure Eight.

Scalability, said Lane Schechter, product manager at GumGum, was the other reason GumGum chose Figure Eight.

Working with Figure Eight has increased GumGum’s data capacity tenfold, Schechter said. Also, instead of taking months to get completed machine learning annotation, it now happens in about a week.

Problems

Still, that’s not to say that working with Figure Eight has been without its share of problems.

One of the biggest challenges has been communicating directly with Figure Eight’s crowdsource contributors, Nishimura said.

At times, the contributors have had trouble understanding exactly what GumGum wants, but, because there is no way to directly interact with the contributors, Nishimura said it is hard to know if the contributors are having problems, or what they might be.

The best GumGum can do is put in a message, Nishimura said, but there is no way to alert each contributor to the message. Besides, a single message isn’t the same as having a conversation, she added.

While she was unsure if other similar crowdsourcing machine learning annotation companies have a better way to communicate with contributors, Nishimura said some other companies have their own checkers, who do spot-checks on completed annotations.

“It’s one more step to ensure quality,” Nishimura said. But, she added, the prices of those services are generally higher than those of Figure Eight’s.

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Meet the 2020 Imagine Cup EMEA Regional Finalists

For young developers with a vision for improving our world with technology, the Imagine Cup is the place to be. Students are challenged to form teams of one to three people and leverage innovative tech, like AI, to develop a project proposal and business idea to make a difference. We are consistently inspired by solutions students create to tackle social good issues, and the collaborative and innovative core of the competition is continuing with the selection of our 2020 Europe, Middle East, and Africa Regional Finalists.

These 10 teams will be traveling to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in March to compete for over USD20,000 total in prizing, Azure credits, plus the top two will win spots to advance to the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship! During their Regional Final journey, teams will also have the chance to participate in an Entrepreneurship Day from the U.S. Department of Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) to refine their business pitches, receive mentorship from Microsoft experts, and experience cutting-edge technical innovation at Microsoft Ignite the Tour.

Introducing our EMEA finalist teams heading to Amsterdam!

Allez, Ukraine

Allez: Allez support personal development through sports experience. The team’s aim isn’t just to maximize the performance of an athlete, but to help coaches to growth individuals who are mentally ready to fight obstacles.

ALOIS, Sweden

ALOIS: ALOIS aims to revolutionize the treatment of depression worldwide and to free more people from their negative thought patterns. ALOIS is a social bot, which determines the user’s emotional state and finds the actual causes of the depression.

Casie, Switzerland

Casie: The team’s project is aimed at using facial keypoints as a parameter to track the sequence of emotions displayed by user and using an LSTM RNN in order to infer problems with learning.

The Knights, Kenya

WEEDING BOT: Weeding bot is an automated robot that maneuvers between crop rows as it weeds interrow and intra row weeds using artificial intelligence and a camera as a sensor, equipped with a robotic arm coupled with a gripper and plough-like weeding tool.

meCare, Russia 

meCare: The team are developing a solution for primary screening of malignant skin lesions at home.

Monica, Poland

Monica: Monica is a visual assistant for blind people that is integrated into smart glasses and responds to users requests via voice commands.

RedWalls, Tunisia

I-Remember: I-Remember is a two part mobile application designed for the well being of the both the Alzheimer’s patient and their caregivers.

Vhysio, United Kingdom

Vhysio: Vhysio is a machine learning web app utilising tensorflow.js, a cutting edge browser based Machine Learning library, to enable accessible physiotherapy for the Visually Impaired – talking through exercises by responding to users’ postures in real-time.

Team Wild Eye, Kenya

WildEye_KE: Wild Eye_KE seeks to bring technology to the wild to monitor & track animal activities & notify authorities in case animals stray away from the wildlife protected areas (WPAs), reducing poaching & human interaction with wild animals away from WPAs.

Team to be announced, Pakistan

The results of the 2020 Pakistan National Final have not yet been announced.

Congratulations to all finalists! Check out our recently announced Asia Regional Finalists to learn about more innovative projects in this year’s competition and get inspired. Stay tuned for the announcement of our last group of finalist teams from the Americas next month and follow the competition journey on Instagram and Twitter as students head to their in-person regional events to compete!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Cradlepoint NetCloud update avoids unnecessary data usage

Cradlepoint has introduced technology that helps customers control costs by flagging unusual increases in data use across the wireless links managed by the vendor’s software-defined WAN.

The vendor unveiled this week the latest analytics in its cloud-based Cradlepoint NetCloud management platform. Cradlepoint is aiming the technology at retailers, government agencies and enterprises that have widely distributed operations. Those organizations typically have a WAN dependent on 4G and other wireless links.

The latest algorithms determine patterns of data usage based on historical data gathered over time across a company’s wireless links, the vendor said. Cradlepoint NetCloud will notify network managers when data usage deviates from past patterns.

The feature provides early notification of surges in usage that might be unrelated to normal business operations, such as video streaming by employees or misconfigured networking gear.

Cradlepoint pitches itself as particularly useful to retailers. The company claims that 75% of the top retailers globally uses its technology. Customers include David’s Bridal, which sells wedding dresses through 330 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Another sizable retail customer is the jewelry manufacturer Pandora, which distributes its products through stores in more than 100 countries.

Companies outside of retail also use Cradlepoint technology. DSC Dredge LLC uses Cradlepoint for managing 4G LTE, 4G and 3G connectivity across its fleet of dredging machines. The company supplies the equipment in more than 40 countries for use in constructing dams and improving waterway drainage and navigability.

DSC has equipped each of its dredges with a Cradelpoint router and oversees the technology through the NetCloud management software.

Cradlepoint sells subscription-based packages that converge multiple network services on a single edge router. The bundle, for example, could include a router with Ethernet ports, and support for Wi-Fi with a guest portal and LTE integration.

Cradlepoint sells subscriptions on a one-, three- or five-year basis.

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Meet the 2020 Imagine Cup Asia Regional Finalists

For 18 years, student developers have brought their unique technology solutions to life with Imagine Cup to make a difference in the world around them. Starting with just an idea, students form teams of one to three people and leverage Microsoft technology to develop purpose-driven applications from what they’re most passionate about.

This competition year is no different, and the journey to the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship is kicking off with the selection of the Asia Regional Finalists! From hundreds of teams who submitted projects to the Asia Online Semifinals, 10 teams have been chosen to advance to the Asia Regional Final in Singapore this February. Encompassing solutions tackling a drug scanning app to monitor authenticity and allergens, to a real-time computer vision physiotherapy tool, to an immersive virtual reality experience so young students can learn about different cultures, these student innovations are truly incredible and have the chance to create global impact.

At the Regional Final, all teams will participate in an Entrepreneur Day and receive in-person pitch training from the U.S. Department of Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST), and compete for prizing totaling over USD20,000 in cash plus Azure credits. The top two teams will win spots in the 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship in Seattle, Washington to present their projects live for the chance to take home USD100,000 and a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.

We’re excited to introduce this year’s Asia Regional Finalist teams!

Altruistic

Indonesia

Tanah Airku: Tanah Airku is immersive learning media using books, AR, and VR to deliver a complete cultural learning experience for children from 1st to 3rd grade.

Blume-India

India

Seguro Droga: The team developed an Android application which lets patients scan a drug’s RFID card to determine authenticity using Hyperledger Fabric on Azure VM, manage their drug purchases, and set filters for allergens.

EDVR

Nepal

EDVR: EDVR is a voice-controlled immersive Virtual Reality experience for dyslexic students enrolled in STEM education. EDVR aims to solve the problem of imparting STEM education for students with learning disabilities by enabling them to visualize, comprehend, and conceptualize.

Hollo

Hong Kong

Hollo: Hollo is a Social Technology Enterprise based in Hong Kong. The team is developing a comprehensive tool for NGOs, therapists, and youth living with mental illness to advance therapy practices using technology such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Muses

China

AI Composition System: Using AI, The Muse Artificial Intelligence Composer is a low-cost solution to create music for commercial use, providing a new solution for some commercial music creations that have lower creative requirements and are more cost effective. 

Nutone 

Japan

NUTONE: The team’s device restores the ability to speak for patients who have lost their voice (through reasons such as laryngectomes).

TAZS

India

FaceTag: The team created a solution for bottlenecked gateways in a daily commute: specifically the entry and exit points at metro stations. FastTag tollways enable commuters to simply walk in, have their face scanned, and have the toll deducted automatically from their wallet.

Team Zest

Singapore

Dr. Rehab: Dr. Rehab is a mobile application for real-time physiotherapy supervision through computer vision. Users can access the rehabilitation exercises assigned to them, follow guided instructions, and receive feedback while completing their exercises.

Tulibot Team

Indonesia

Tulibot: Tulibot is an integrated assistive device to bridge the communication gap for the deaf by providing a smart glove (gesture to text) and smart glasses (speech to text).

Vibra

Singapore

Vibra-Intellisense: Vibra-IntelliSense aims to help companies transition from traditional preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance through the use of sensors. The sensors capture machine vibrations to detect anomalies and recommend maintenance efforts.

Congratulations to our finalists! Follow their competition journey on Twitter and Instagram as they head to Singapore in February to compete in the Regional Final, co-located with Microsoft Ignite | The Tour. Students will have the opportunity to connect with the tech community and get hands-on with the latest in developer tools and cloud technologies.

Are you passionate about using tech for social good to solve some of today’s most pressing challenges? Imagine Cup Asia and EMEA submissions are now closed but Americas regional submissions are open until January 15! Register now for a chance to join students across the globe making an impact with technology.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Hyper-V Powering Windows Features

December 2019

Hyper-V is Microsoft’s hardware virtualization technology that initially released with Windows Server 2008 to support server virtualization and has since become a core component of many Microsoft products and features. These features range from enhancing security to empowering developers to enabling the most compatible gaming console. Recent additions to this list include Windows Sandbox, Windows Defender Application Guard, System Guard and Advanced Threat Detection, Hyper-V Isolated-Containers, Windows Hypervisor Platform and Windows Subsystem for Linux 2. Additionally, applications using Hyper-V, such as Kubernetes for Windows and Docker Desktop, are also being introduced and improved.

As the scope of Windows virtualization has expanded to become an integral part of the operating system, many new OS capabilities have taken a dependency on Hyper-V. Consequently, this created compatibility issues with many popular third-party products that provide their own virtualization solutions, forcing users to choose between applications or losing OS functionality. Therefore, Microsoft has partnered extensively with key software vendors such as VMware, VirtualBox, and BlueStacks to provide updated solutions that directly leverage Microsoft virtualization technologies, eliminating the need for customers to make this trade-off.

Windows Sandbox is an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software without the fear of lasting impact to your PC.  Any software installed in Windows Sandbox stays only in the sandbox and cannot affect your host. Once Windows Sandbox is closed, the entire state, including files, registry changes and the installed software, are permanently deleted. Windows Sandbox is built using the same technology we developed to securely operate multi-tenant Azure services like Azure Functions and provides integration with Windows 10 and support for UI based applications.

Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG) is a Windows 10 security feature introduced in the Fall Creators Update (Version 1709 aka RS3) that protects against targeted threats using Microsoft’s Hyper-V virtualization technology. WDAG augments Windows virtualization based security capabilities to prevent zero-day kernel vulnerabilities from compromising the host operating system. WDAG also enables enterprise users of Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer (IE) protection from zero-day kernel vulnerabilities by isolating a user’s untrusted browser sessions from the host operating system. Security conscious enterprises use WDAG to lock down their enterprise host while allowing their users to browse non-enterprise content.

Application Guard isolates untrusted sites using a new instance of Windows at the hardware layer.

In order to protect critical resources such as the Windows authentication stack, single sign-on tokens, the Windows Hello biometric stack, and the Virtual Trusted Platform Module, a system’s firmware and hardware must be trustworthy. Windows Defender System Guard reorganizes the existing Windows 10 system integrity features under one roof and sets up the next set of investments in Windows security. It’s designed to make these security guarantees:

  • To protect and maintain the integrity of the system as it starts up
  • To validate that system integrity has truly been maintained through local and remote attestation

Detecting and stopping attacks that tamper with kernel-mode agents at the hypervisor level is a critical component of the unified endpoint protection platform in Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Microsoft Defender ATP). It’s not without challenges, but the deep integration of Windows Defender Antivirus with hardware-based isolation capabilities allows the detection of artifacts of such attacks.

Hyper-V plays an important role in the container development experience on Windows 10. Since Windows containers require a tight coupling between its OS version and the host that it runs on, Hyper-V is used to encapsulate containers on Windows 10 in a transparent, lightweight virtual machine. Colloquially, we call these “Hyper-V Isolated Containers”. These containers are run in VMs that have been specifically optimized for speed and efficiency when it comes to host resource usage. Hyper-V Isolated Containers most notably allow developers to develop for multiple Linux distros and Windows at the same time and are managed just like any container developer would expect as they integrate with all the same tooling (e.g. Docker).

The Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHP) adds an extended user-mode API for third-party virtualization stacks and applications to create and manage partitions at the hypervisor level, configure memory mappings for the partition, and create and control execution of virtual processors. The primary value here is that third-party virtualization software (such as VMware) can co-exist with Hyper-V and other Hyper-V based features. Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) is a recent technology that has enabled this co-existence.

WHP provides an API similar to that of Linux’s KVM and macOS’s Hypervisor Framework, and is currently leveraged on projects by QEMU and VMware.

This diagram provides a high-level overview of a third-party architecture.

WSL 2 is the newest version of the architecture that powers the Windows Subsystem for Linux to run ELF64 Linux binaries on Windows. Its feature updates include increased file system performance as well as added full system call compatibility. This new architecture changes how these Linux binaries interact with Windows and your computer’s hardware, but still provides the same user experience as in WSL 1 (the current widely available version). The main difference being that WSL 2 uses a new architecture, which is primarily running a true Linux kernel inside a virtual machine. Individual Linux distros can be run either as a WSL 1 distro, or as a WSL 2 distro, can be upgraded or downgraded at any time, and can run WSL 1 and WSL 2 distros side by side.

Kubernetes started officially supporting Windows Server in production with the release of Kubernetes version 1.14 (in March 2019). Windows-based applications constitute a large portion of the workloads in many organizations. Windows containers provide a modern way for these Windows applications to use DevOps processes and cloud native patterns. Kubernetes has become the de facto standard for container orchestration; hence this support enables a vast ecosystem of Windows applications to not only leverage the power of Kubernetes, but also to leverage the robust and growing ecosystem surrounding it. Organizations with investments in both Windows-based applications and Linux-based applications no longer need to look for separate orchestrators to manage their workloads, leading to increased operational efficiencies across their deployments. The engineering that supported this release relied upon open source and community led approaches that originally brought Windows Server containers to Windows Server 2016.

These components and tools have allowed Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology to introduce new ways of enabling customer experiences. Windows Sandbox, Windows Defender Application Guard, System Guard and Advanced Threat Detection, Hyper-V Isolated-Containers, Windows Hypervisor Platform and Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 are all new Hyper-V components that ensure the security and flexibility customers should expect from Windows. The coordination of applications using Hyper-V, such as Kubernetes for Windows and Docker Desktop also represent Microsoft’s dedication to customer needs, which will continue to stand for our main sentiment going forward.

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Author: nickeaton

Decision-makers may prefer Wi-Fi over 5G in retail networks

While fifth-generation wireless has taken the technology world by storm, many retailers don’t see a need to heed the hype.

Several use cases may glean immediate 5G benefits, yet 5G in retail is superfluous for now. Although 5G can support retail networks that require advanced capabilities, such as virtual reality, the retail world won’t depend on 5G because other wireless technologies are still efficient, according to a recent Forrester Research report. The report “The CIO’s Guide To 5G In The Retail Sector” explored particular retail use cases, and report author and principal analyst Dan Bieler discussed key differences between retail and other 5G use cases.

“Retailers are quite sophisticated in their existing technology understanding,” Bieler said. “They have achieved some great solutions with existing technologies, and they will not risk upsetting everything in the short term where they don’t see a clear [ROI] for making additional network infrastructure investments in 5G.”

Dan BielerDan Bieler

Retailers are interested in 5G for their networks, Bieler said, yet few have implemented or deployed 5G so far. Some retailers may seek out 5G as a replacement for existing MPLS connectivity, but this choice depends on pricing models and business requirements. Overall, IT decision-makers may prefer Wi-Fi over 5G in retail networks because not all retailers require the advanced capabilities 5G networks offer, he added.

5G in retail lacks transformative qualities largely because cellular technologies weren’t developed for indoor network coverage, and physical objects indoors can impede 5G’s millimeter wave frequencies and its line-of-sight travel capabilities.

The advent of Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, may interest retailers more than 5G, as Wi-Fi historically supports more indoor use cases and networks than cellular technologies. Both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G offer similar capabilities, which makes them competitors in some use cases and complementary in others. For exclusively indoor retail environments, IT decision-makers may not see a need for 5G networks, Bieler said.

“[Retailers] can do a lot with the technologies that we have today,” he said. “5G will be a continuum rather than a completely revolutionary new technology for them.”

5G benefits
Aside from 5G in retail, the new generation of cellular technology has several benefits for all types of organizations.

Another issue retailers could face regarding 5G is customer apprehension. Despite 5G’s various new capabilities, customers don’t necessarily care about technological innovations and won’t alter their shopping habits because of 5G. However, customers in younger age groups may be more willing to adapt to the capabilities 5G enables, so organizations should focus more on how to win over older age groups, the report said.

Benefits of 5G in retail use cases, networks

Despite the efficiency of other wireless technologies, the report noted three main areas where 5G in retail can benefit business operations, including the following:

  1. Back-end operations, where organizations can handle work the customers don’t see, such as tracking and monitoring inventory within warehouses.
  2. Front-end operations, which are customer-facing operations and deal with tracking and monitoring products and people within stores.
  3. Finance operations, where the store can remotely track and monitor a customer’s product or service usage and charge them accordingly.

As 5G rolls out throughout the 2020s, more features and potential benefits for organizations will arise, such as network slicing and mobile edge computing. These capabilities can help organizations create experiences tailored specifically to individual customers.

“5G allows the retailer to track many more items and many more sensors in a store than previous cellular technologies, so they can have a much more granular picture of what retail customers are looking at, where they are going and what they are doing with products in the store,” Bieler said.

Other benefits the report cited include cost-efficient store connectivity, enhanced customer insights and improved transparency within supply chains. Organizations won’t glean these benefits for several years, Bieler said, as carriers will deploy new 5G features in stages.

However, decision-makers can prepare to deploy 5G in retail use cases by focusing closely on network design and determining whether 5G is the right choice for their operations. To evaluate this, organizations can assess their indoor connectivity environments and gauge how a 5G deployment could affect the business sectors in which the store or organization requires 5G access.

Overall, 5G has various benefits for retail use cases, the report said, but these benefits are not universal. Businesses need to look closely at their network infrastructures and business requirements to evaluate 5G’s potential effect on their operations. Regardless, Bieler said he was sure deployments of 5G in retail will eventually become common.

“[Retailers] will still adopt it over time because 5G will provide super-fast broadband connectivity,” Bieler said. “It opens up your business model opportunities in an easier way. So, over time, retailers will definitely embrace it, but not tomorrow.”

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Microsoft and KKBOX Group launch global strategic partnership – Stories

TAIPEI — December 20, 2019 — Microsoft Taiwan and Asia’s leading media technology company, KKBOX Group, jointly announced today the launch of a global strategic partnership that will migrate the group’s subsidiary KKBOX’s music streaming services to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Additionally, KKBOX Group subsidiary KKStream has joined Microsoft’s global partner network to release BlendVision™, a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that will harness data and AI to effectively reduce operating costs of over-the-top (OTT) platform operators. Microsoft and KKBOX Group will also jointly use data and AI to optimize its music-creation system and explore new music-listening possibilities for consumers. This cooperation is a milestone for KKBOX Group’s internationalization initiative and opens up more possibilities for the digital entertainment industry.

“The media and entertainment industries are going through a transformation as studios, broadcasters and other rich media content creators, such as over-the-top (OTT) service providers, are facing pressure to innovate on how they deliver content to their audiences while getting smarter on using data to their advantage,” said Bob De Haven, general manager, Worldwide Media & Communications Industries, Microsoft. “KKBOX has been at the forefront of the entertainment industry in Asia, providing world-class entertainment to users and continuing to experiment and innovate with technology. We are thrilled that KKBOX has chosen Azure to provide the company with intelligent platforms that unlock creativity and collaboration, bring content to market faster and engage audiences.”

Serving the Asian market for over 15 years, KKBOX Group is now expanding globally. It integrates big data — including music, video, show ticketing and e-commerce — and leverages AI to provide users with better experiences and artists, creators, and concert organizers with business insights.

“KKBOX Group offers consumers a wide range of entertainment experiences in Asia,” said Co-founder and CEO Chris Lin. “We are pleased to partner with Microsoft to migrate KKBOX music to Azure, address streaming technology challenges by co-selling BlendVision globally, and develop AI music creation.”

Key initiatives of the partnership include:

  1. KKBOX music streaming service migrates to Microsoft Azure:

By partnering with Microsoft to fully migrate KKBOX music streaming services onto Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, KKBOX Group is meeting consumer demand for high-speed streaming services and highly differentiated entertainment experiences. The partnership will allow KKBOX to provide faster development, manage resource scheduling and flexibly adjust traffic to develop more meta services, aligned with the digital entertainment industry’s trend of accelerating digital services.

Microsoft Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider, with 55 datacenter regions, to offer the scale needed to deploy services and applications on demand to enterprises around the world. This coverage helps enterprises deploy services on demand. With high-standard information security, KKBOX can rapidly deploy innovative services to international markets while ensuring that data is protected by comprehensive security measures. Microsoft is committed to promoting enterprise digital transformation with front-end technology, assisting customers and partners in various industries to adopt AI and the cloud to optimize enterprise resource deployment and operation processes, and to expand their global business territories through joint sales plans. This strategic cooperation with KKBOX Group is a milestone for Microsoft in the digital entertainment industry.

  1. KKStream launches commercial video streaming technology solution — BlendVision:

BlendVision, launched by KKStream, is a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that empowers global streaming platform operators through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, reducing operating costs and improving user experiences while developing services that create new monetization models. BlendVision will launch “BlendVision Video Streaming” combined with “per-title encoding” (PTE) to effectively reduce operating costs of OTT platform operators by using AI to identify different bitrates for video compression and transcoding, greatly reducing transmission bandwidth and saving storage space.

An independently developed image enhancement technology called Perceptual Streaming Engine (PSE) will be added to enhance the visual performance of the original video and double the quality of low-resolution videos into high definition (HD) for optimal streaming image quality. These two technologies (PTE + PSE) together can further reduce platform operator transmission costs by 80% so users get the highest image quality with the lowest traffic. The cooperation between Microsoft and KKStream will be based on the SaaS model, with BlendVision’s service architecture built on Azure, helping to deliver new services to consumers. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s global sales and service teams will assist in implementation. Microsoft and KKBOX already foresee 10 potential customers in the Asian region, symbolizing proof of endless global business opportunities as a result of this strategic alliance.

  1. Both parties to jointly develop AI-enabled music production system for producers:

KKBOX will leverage Microsoft AI technology to build an AI-assisted music arrangement system and an AI-assisted lyric generator. In addition, the group will create a predictive model that uses data and AI to forecast the commercial success of a song. KKBOX and Microsoft believe that the digital entertainment industry is facing a transformation and must use technology to make content faster and smoother for users and to use a data-driven approach to create personalized services. AI will become the most important advancement in this transformation. KKBOX is one of the world’s earliest legal music streaming platforms, providing services since 2005. It has successfully changed consumer listening behavior, and the music industry’s business model is changing accordingly. KKBOX Group and Microsoft aim to leverage AI to explore new opportunities, create new trends and transform the entertainment market.

About KKBOX

For more information on KKBOX, visit: https://www.kkbox.com/about/zh-tw

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.

Media contacts

MSFT contact:
[email protected]

KKBOX contact:
KKBOX Public Relations [email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Clumio eyes security, BaaS expansion with VC funding

Merging storage and security together effectively has been an elusive goal for many technology vendors over the years, but Clumio believes it has a winning formula — and one that can effectively mitigate ransomware threats.

Clumio, a backup-as-a-service provider based in Santa Clara, Calif., recently celebrated $135 million in Series C funding. The startup was founded in 2017 with the goal of leveraging cloud-native services to build a scalable and agile BaaS offering that could also meet enterprises’ needs for data protection and analytics needs.

In this Q&A, Clumio CTO Chad Kinney and CSO Glenn Mulvaney discuss the origin story of the company, how they plan to utilize their recent funding round, and how Clumio addresses ransomware threats.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me how the company was founded.

Chad Kinney: The company was founded about two years ago. And the core concept behind it was to fundamentally remove the complexity of traditional data protection to start with, and do so by delivering a service offering that was delivered via the public cloud.

A few things we realized early on were, as customers were journeying to the public cloud, SaaS-based offerings, and path-based offerings, they needed a way to be able to protect their data set along the way. And we realized that people were running into roadblocks and moving data to the public cloud because data protection was not able to deliver the same type of functions and features that they delivered on premises, and there was a big barrier there that we were breaking through to help customers be able to journey along the public cloud.

The second part was, as we got to the public cloud, security became a big key focus. Our ability to be able to secure this information through both encryption and encryption-in-flight as well as various other ones Glen will go through on the core platform itself was something that customers were very much hyper-focused on as they moved data more and more into the public cloud.

So far we’ve raised about $186 million in a series of A, B and C. Most recently we just closed a series C of $135 million.

How do you plan to use that $135 million to grow the company?

Kinney: A lot of the key focus right now is expediting the introduction of new data sources for the platform itself. Today we back up VMware on premises, VMware running in AWS, as well as elastic block storage for AWS. And so, continuing to expand the data sources is a key thing we’re moving forward with as part of this investment — to get customers access to new data sources faster.

Give me a rundown of what the platform is all about.

Kinney: Fundamentally, we’ve built this platform for the public cloud, on top of AWS. We’ve built in a bunch of great efficiencies in the way the data is ingested. With anything that runs on the public cloud, if you compare that with something that runs on premises, typically you do duplication and security is retrofitted to the data center itself. And the world has shifted dramatically where people are looking to utilize the public cloud heavily and remove the things completely out of the data center. We were able to provide what we call a cloud connector that gets deployed in a customer’s environment — it’s a virtual appliance so there’s no hardware or anything like that. We do duplication and compression and encryption before the data is sent over the wire. We leverage the capabilities of S3 within Amazon, and we use their scale as data gets ingested over the platform itself. Then we use various stateless functions within the platform to churn through the data, as well as DynamoDB for a lot of the metadata functions and various other structures in AWS, and the agility and scale of that core platform to allow us to still be able to ingest data incredibly quickly and be able to provide services on top of that platform.

Glenn Mulvaney: From the security side, leveraging a lot of those public cloud controls we have in Amazon, we’ve implemented a model where data encryption is always on in the platform. It’s not an option to turn it off and data is always encrypted and compressed. And the way it starts, which I think is a critical feature of the platform, is that the data is encrypted before it leaves the customer environment; it’s encrypted in the customer environment, it’s transmitted over a secure channel and then it’s stored securely in S3. And there’s different encryption keys used in each of those steps.

In terms of security in a more general fashion, we think of it in a couple of different ways. Fundamentally, we think of it as technology, people and processes, so we’ve talked about the technology a little bit in terms of how we handle encryption, but for the people and the processes, what we have implemented is the ISO 27001 framework, and we just completed our stage 2 audit last week. The ISO 27001 framework gives us a solid foundation for principles and controls for internal processes, and it also guided how we trained our employees about security awareness. We really used that as a guideline to integrate a lot of security into our software development lifecycle and into our QA lifecycle and broadly across all of the employees at the company, including sales and marketing and customer success.

Do you see yourself as more of a security vendor or a backup vendor or both?

Kinney: I’d say a little bit of both. I’d say we’re a security-first company where we really spent a lot of time thinking about what we’re doing as a core platform setting ourselves up for success. If you had to put a name on it, I’d say we’re more of a data platform company than anything.

What effects have ransomware attacks had on the backup and data protection market in general?

Mulvaney: I think with the prevalence of ransomware attacks happening at all levels of organizations of all sizes, people are thinking a lot more seriously about their data protection and about their ability to recover from some sort of ransomware attack. I think there’s certainly a lot of opportunity for Clumio to help a lot of organizations like that and to be able to give them a truly secure ability to recover from something like a ransomware attack. Certainly the prevalence of these [attacks] is increasing at a rate we hadn’t anticipated, and I think that’s helping in the market for data protection to actually drive people to think much more seriously about what their backup compliance policies look like.

How does Clumio address ransomware threats in a way that’s different from other backup providers?

Kinney: Let me give you the most recent example, which is an interesting one. We recently announced the capability to be able to back up elastic block storage from AWS and when you look at the solutions that are out there today, most people protect data with snapshots and the snapshots live in the same account as the production data. Most people rely on these snapshots for quick recovery but they’re also relying on them for the backup. And when malware hits or a bad actor hits on that particular account, they functionally get access to both the production data as well as the backup of that data in the same account and so it’s opened up possibilities for people to run into data loss issues.

With our solution what we’re fundamentally doing is we’re copying the data and creating an air gap solution between the customer’s environment and Clumio, which enables people to protect their data outside of their account and protect them from malware and ransomware attacks. We store all data in S3, which is unbeatable so no data, once backed up, can even change itself in any factor, so it gives customers the ability with our recovery mechanism to restore data into another AWS account, alleviating any sort of malware issues that may occur within one of their other AWS accounts.  

What do the next 12 months look like for the company?

Kinney: The motivation for us is to continue to expand more and more into the public cloud. Today we solve the key focus around private cloud, which is VMware. As people are moving to the public cloud some are choosing to use VMware running in AWS which is using a button to quickly move assets into the public cloud. They’re also going and re-architecting applications into the public cloud, like using elastic block storage and other platform and service-based offerings. We are going to continue to expand in both SaaS-based offerings the usual suspects in that as well as more and more cloud-native capabilities so we can follow customers along that journey.

Beyond the additional data sources, we’re adding additional functions on top of those datasets; we’re investing in things like anomaly detection and reporting over the next 12 months and we are slowly bringing those into the platform as they come to bear.

Mulvaney: From the compliance side in 2020, obviously we’re thinking about looking closely at CCPA [California Privacy Protection Act] and I think with that going into effect on January 1 we’re going to see that there’s probably going to be more emerging new standards for certifications for protections and personal information handling already the ISO 27001 was revised in 2019 and previously was only revised in 2014 so I think protection of personal data is going to be a paramount part of our roadmap and in 2020 we’re looking very closely at doing high-trust certification and beginning implementation for Fedramp.

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