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Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to press and analysts in San Francisco about our vision for business applications at Microsoft. In addition, I had the privilege to make two very important announcements: the upcoming availability of new Dynamics 365 AI applications, and our very first mixed reality business applications: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Our vision for business applications at Microsoft

We live in a connected world where companies are challenged every day to innovate so they can stay ahead of emerging trends and repivot business models to take advantage of new opportunities to meet growing customer demands.

To innovate, organizations need to reimagine their processes. They need solutions that are modern, enabling new experiences for how they can engage their customers while making their people more productive. They need unified systems that break data silos, so they have a holistic view of their business, customers and employees. They need pervasive intelligence threaded throughout the platform, giving them the ability to reason over data, to predict trends and drive proactive intelligent action. And with adaptable applications, they can be nimble, allowing them to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way.

Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure.

With the release of our new AI and mixed reality applications we are taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the accelerant of business applications. Specifically, today we are making the following announcements:

Dynamics 365 + AI

First, I am happy to announce the coming availability of a new Dynamics 365 AI offering — a new class of AI applications that will deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take informed actions. And because these insights are easily extensible through the power of Microsoft Power BI, Azure and the Common Data Service, organizations will be able to address even the most complex scenarios specific to their business.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales: AI can help salespeople prioritize their time to focus on deals that matter most, provide answers to the most common questions regarding the performance of sales teams, offer a detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and surface insights that enable smarter coaching of sales teams.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service: With Microsoft’s AI and natural language understanding, customer service data can surface automated insights that help guide employees to take action and can even leverage virtual agents to help lower support costs and enable delightful customer experiences, all without needing in-house AI experts and without writing any code.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights: Helps empower your marketing, social media and market research teams to make better decisions with market insights. Marketers can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.

To help bring this to life, today we released a video with our CEO, Satya Nadella, and Navrina Singh, a member of our Dynamics 365 engineering team, showing examples of ways we’re bringing the power of AI to customer service organizations.

Dynamics 365 + Mixed Reality

Our second announcement of the day centers on the work we are doing to bring mixed reality and business applications together.

Since the release of Microsoft HoloLens over two years ago, the team has learned a lot from customers and partners. The momentum that HoloLens has received within the commercial space has been overwhelmingly positive. This has been supported by increased demand and deployment from some of the world’s most innovative companies.

We recognize that many employees need information in context to apply their knowledge and craft. Not only on a 2-D screen — but information and data in context, at the right place, and at the right time, so employees can produce even greater impact for their organizations. Mixed reality is a technology uniquely suited to do exactly that.

This is a whole new kind of business application. And that’s precisely what we’re introducing today, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Today, we also showcased for the first time how Chevron is deploying HoloLens to take advantage of Dynamics 365 mixed reality business applications.

Chevron is already achieving real, measurable results with its global HoloLens deployment. Previously it was required to fly in an inspector from Houston to a facility in Singapore once a month to inspect equipment. Now it has in-time inspection using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and can identify issues or provide approvals immediately.

In addition, remote collaboration and assistance have helped the company operate more safely in a better work environment, serving as a connection point between firstline workers and remote experts, as well as cutting down on travel and eliminating risks associated with employee travel.

Here is a peek into the work Chevron is doing with mixed reality:

Unlock what’s next with the Dynamics 365 October 2018 release

Next week at Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision we’ll be in Orlando talking with thousands of customers, partners, developers, and IT and business leaders about our October 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and the Power platform that will be generally available Oct. 1. The wave of innovation this represents across the entire product family is significant, with hundreds of new capabilities and features.

We will have a lot more to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to sharing more!

The post Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Meet your 2018 Imagine Cup champions – smartARM of Canada!

Satya Nadella with the smartARM team, 2018 Imagine Cup winners, and Chloe Kim, special guest and Olympic snowboarding gold medalist.
Satya Nadella with smartARM team members, the 2018 Imagine Cup World Champions, along with Chloe Kim, special guest and Olympic snowboarding gold medalist.

At its heart, the Imagine Cup is all about bringing students together from across the globe, inspiring them to usher in our collective future using cloud-based technologies of today and tomorrow, including artificial intelligence (AI), big data, mixed reality and more. Since its inception 16 years ago, the Imagine Cup has motivated nearly 2 million students from over 190 countries around the world to bring their biggest, boldest ideas to life.

Today, we are excited to announce smartARM of Canada as the 2018 Imagine Cup champions! smartARM created a robotic hand prosthetic, using Microsoft Azure Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Cloud Storage, that uses a camera embedded in its palm to recognize objects and calculate the most appropriate grip for an object. Based on machine learning, the more the model is used, the more accurate it becomes.  As the victors, smartARM wins a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, $85,000 in cash and a $50,000 Azure grant. Team iCry2Talk of Greece earned second place with a low-cost and non-invasive intelligent interface between infant and parent that translates in real time the baby’s cry, and associates it with a specific physiological and psychological state, depicting the result in a text, image and voice message. Third place went to Team Mediated Ear of Japan for its project, Mediated Ear, software for hearing-impaired individuals to focus on a specific speaker among a multitude of conversations. Mediated Ear can relay specific sounds in audio waveforms through deep learning.

For the winners, and for their competitors, the road to the World Finals started with a single idea on how to change the world through innovative use of technology. Tens of thousands of students walked this road, spending months coding their solutions and dreaming up go-to-market plans to bring their ideas to life. From there, and through fierce competition at the national and regional level, 49 teams from 33 countries were selected to compete in the World Finals.

This year, we’ve added special Imagine Cup awards of $15,000 for three key areas of digital transformation: AI, big data and mixed reality. On Tuesday, we crowned the winners. SochWare from Nepal, won the AI award for designing a solution to help farmers identify plant diseases, suggest mitigation strategies, connect with experts and get updated with recent agriculture findings. Drugsafe from India won the big data award for their solution to validate genuine drugs and decrease illness from counterfeit substances. Pengram from the United States won the mixed reality award for allowing engineers from around the world to be holographically “teleported” into a workspace when needed.

The 2018 winners emerged from a strong field of competitors featuring projects that utilized leading-edge cloud technologies with the promise of improving the way we live and work. Throughout it all, the next generation of innovators put their creativity on display in addressing some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

This year’s participants weren’t just developing unique and potentially game-changing technology experiences, but they are also actively sharpening the skills that will boost their success as developers, technologists and entrepreneurs for the next generation. They follow in the footsteps of a long line of dreamers driven to succeed. For example, 2017 year Imagine Cup alumni Declan Goncalves of Canada was featured in Betakit’s “Canada’s Developer 30 Under 30” list for developing a platform which allows medical practitioners to better quantify their patient’s progress and detect neurodegenerative disease onset with the help of AI. Another alumni team, Kobojo, began their journey making Facebook games at Imagine Cup 2008 and has since raised $6 million in venture capital for their startup.

I’d like to thank this year’s championship judges: Co-founder and COO of Bitnami, Erica Brescia; CEO of Glitch, Anil Dash;, and Microsoft’s own Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Microsoft. Special thanks also to Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Azure Compute Corey Sanders, who hosted the championship and announced this year’s winner. Last but certainly not least, on behalf of Microsoft, I’d like to congratulate our new Imagine Cup champion, team smartARM, and all of the students who worked so hard to make this 16th anniversary Imagine Cup the most inspiring one yet. If you haven’t had a chance, be sure to view the championship video above to see some of the best student developers in the world envision a brighter, bolder future for us all.

— Charlotte

P.S. Follow me on Twitter for updates on Imagine Cup and other news and noteworthy information in the cloud and ecosystem space.

The post Meet your 2018 Imagine Cup champions – smartARM of Canada! appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

All You Need to Know to Start Your Gaming Journey

With dramatic adventures and fantastical universes abound, entering the world of gaming is like traveling to a parallel dimension where anything is possible. There are more people than ever playing games, willing to spend valuable time and money on gaming to fulfill their need for virtual adventures.

 

But for the uninitiated, getting the right gaming setup can be daunting, especially when there are countless hardware combinations available. Fear not, help is on the way. Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide on all you need to know about gaming hardware.

 

 

 

 

From first-person shooters (FPSs), which place players squarely in the heart of battle, to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), which immerse you in sprawling settings with millions of other gamers, there’s truly something for everyone in the gaming world.

 

Perhaps you’re interested in embarking on an epic quest in a role-playing game (RPG), or utilizing your analytical prowess to outsmart your opponents in a real-time strategy game. Or maybe you’d prefer to chase championship glory in a sports title, risk it all to be the last person standing in a battle royale, or invite your friends to play the virtual version of a classic board game.

 

All you need to do to get started is pick a title that interests you, install it on your computer, and you’re ready to begin your gaming adventure.

 

 

 

 

Here’s an all-too-common scenario: You’re eager to start your first mission, having familiarized yourself with the controls, but the game is taking too long to load.

 

If you’re playing on a desktop, an easy way to shorten load times is to upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD). You may be able to do the same for your laptop, depending on its design.

 

‘Load fast, Play fast’, Samsung 860 PRO | EVO SSDs

 

Unlike hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs do not feature moving mechanical parts, which means that they can load, store and read data three to four times faster. Samsung’s SSDs, the 860 EVO and 860 PRO, offer up to 530 MB/s and 560 MB/s read and write speeds, respectively. Featuring a five-year warranty, they’re reliable partners for all your gaming needs.

 

Installation is easy thanks to Samsung’s Data Migration program, which allows you to seamlessly transfer important data to your new computer drive. Simply connect the SSD to your computer via SATA USB cable, run the migration program, and your data will be automatically transferred to your new SSD.

 

Your upgraded SSD will allow you to enjoy an in-game edge. You’ll be able to load your game faster than other players, which will make it easier to, for instance, ready your forces for battle in an MMORPG.

 

Samsung’s 860 PRO | EVO SSDs, personified by the Victo robots pictured above, are ready to supercharge your gaming experience.

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to enjoy your games anytime and anywhere, a gaming notebook (or laptop) could be just what you need. Gaming notebooks are high-performance PCs that support brilliant graphics and fast response speeds.

 

Samsung designed the Notebook Odyssey Z to take the gaming experience to new levels. The company’s latest gaming notebook comes equipped with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 hexacore processor, as well as the NVIDIA Pascal™ architecture-based GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. The device also supports the latest DDR4 memory with a bandwidth of 2,400 MHz, which allows games to operate at lightning quick speeds.

 

These components allow the Notebook Odyssey Z to foster an ideal gaming experience. And if that’s not enough, the notebook also features convenient shortcut keys – to initiate screen captures, activate silent mode, and more – along with a Beast Mode function, which instantly boosts performance by 17 percent.

 

 

To help ensure that games run as smoothly as possible, the notebook features Samsung’s innovative Z AeroFlow Cooling System, which consists of three lightweight components: the Dynamic Spread Vapor Chamber, the Z AeroFlow Cooling Design, and dual Z Blade Blowers. Together, this powerful trio of technologies ensures that the notebook remains cool and powerful even when handling the most demanding of games. By directing cold air to the warmest parts of the device and expelling warm air through the vents, the system creates a pleasant, heat-free environment that’s perfect for extended gaming sessions.

 

 

 

 

Practice makes perfect. But at a certain point, you’ll find that your gaming skills are improving at a slower pace. That’s when having gaming-specific accessories can help take your experience to the next level.

 

By simply adding a gaming mouse and keyboard to your setup, you’ll notice an immediate difference in your reaction speed and accuracy.

 

When shopping for a gaming mouse, pay attention to the dots-per-inch (DPI) number. The higher the figure, the more sensitive the mouse is. Trying different mouse and keyboard combinations is also essential to finding a pair that clicks with you.

 

With sound design becoming increasingly sophisticated, it’s important for players to hear even minor audio details during gameplay. Extra layers of sound from additional speakers will improve your sense of anticipation and allow you to prepare for attacks from all directions.

 

 

 

 

Being able to quickly spot hidden items and accurately distinguish different characters are crucial skills in the gaming world. However, details needed for identification may not show up clearly on a laptop with a small screen.

 

 

Samsung’s latest high-resolution gaming monitor, the super ultra-wide (32:9) CHG90, can alleviate this frustration. The 49-inch monitor’s 144Hz refresh rate allows it to deliver smooth and captivating visuals, even for games with high-spec graphics. The device also boasts a 1800R curvature, and features Quantum dot and HDR technology to foster lifelike, vibrant images that make gamers feel like they’re in the heart of the action.

 

The CHG90’s Black Equalizer function enhances visibility in dark areas of the screen, making it easier to spot your enemies wherever they hide.

 

To further amplify gamers’ immersion, the CHG90 offers an 1ms (MPRT) response time, which minimizes the effects of motion blur, as well as an innovative Black Equalizer feature, which enhances visibility in dark areas of the screen to make it easier for gamers to spot items and lurking enemies.

 

 

 

 

Not so long ago, accessing the world of virtual reality required traveling to one of the few locations that possessed the requisite technology. Today, however, the excitement of mixed reality (MR) can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

 

Designed in partnership with Microsoft, Samsung’s HMD Odyssey headset allows gamers to experience new levels of immersion through mixed reality.

 

Equipped with dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays, the HMD Odyssey utilizes mixed reality to bring an unparalleled level of immersion to video games. The headset’s 1,600 x 1,440 resolution and 130-nit brightness ensure that even a game’s finest details are crystal clear. Its built-in AKG headphones, meanwhile, support 360° spatial sound, transforming games into multi-sensory experiences.

 

By replacing the keyboard and mouse with ergonomic motion controllers, the headset offers gamers limitless freedom to traverse virtual terrains. The motion sensors are built into the headset, which makes installing the HMD Odyssey as easy as plugging a memory stick into your computer.

 

Support for the wide range of VR-enabled apps and games available in the Microsoft Store, as well as the over 4,000* titles in the Steam VR catalog, makes the HMD Odyssey the ultimate platform for modern-day gaming.

 

 

Congratulations, you have successfully completed all the levels in this guide! It’s time to start your first virtual adventure, where things will get a little trickier.

 

 

*Title availability is subject to change.

[Hands-on] Get Ready to Explore Windows Mixed Reality with Samsung’s HMD Odyssey

 

 

Fusing rich visuals with crisp acoustics, the Samsung HMD Odyssey offers an experience that draws you in deeper to the world of mixed reality, a blend of virtual reality and augmented reality.

 

HMD Odyssey is a head-mounted display, developed to explore the world of Windows Mixed Reality. The headset was designed in partnership with Microsoft, creating a device that seeks to reimagine the realms of virtual reality through its high-resolution dual displays, AKG headphones, built-in microphone and intuitive installation.

 

Read on for our hands-on, first impressions look at the new mixed reality headset.

 

 

Out of the Box, Into the Game

Set-up is truly intuitive. As well as being ready to play right out of the box, the Samsung HMD Odyssey’s ergonomic design also allowed me to adjust the device to my satisfaction in moments.

 

The HMD Odyssey does not require any external motion sensors, thanks to its Inside-Out Position Tracking, which frees you from the confines of a single environment and allows you to plug and play, anywhere. Just connect the device to a compatible PC* wherever you are and get ready to explore a virtual world.

 

 

To set up the HMD Odyssey, I first connected my device to a compatible PC. Next, I was instructed to point the headset towards my PC monitor, and draw the shape of the room, while keeping the headset facing the monitor. This allowed the device to map the physical space around me, and any obstacles, such as furniture and walls, in the physical world became “walls” in the virtual world, to prevent me from bumping into anything.

 

Everyone’s body is different, and the HMD Odyssey is designed for an optimal fit for everybody. For example, the hard type headband, with its cushioned Forehead Pad, is easily adjustable and ensures an even weight balance for hours of comfortable play. The headband can be tightened to sit snugly on the head, even while wearing glasses, and blocks out any surrounding light. A nice addition is the physical volume buttons, which mean that you can control sound levels with just one press, rather than scrolling through in-game controls. What is more, the Inter Pupillary Distance (IPD) Control Wheel, positioned under the goggles, adjusts the distance between the left and right dual displays, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your eyes.

 

 

 

See More, Experience More

At the heart of the full visual immersion is superior picture quality. The world may have been virtual, but the sharp, crystal clear images that surrounded me made it feel completely real.

 

The Samsung HMD Odyssey’s dual 3.5-inch AMOLED displays are finely tuned for the mixed reality experience, offering remarkable image definition.

 

 

At the same time as delivering more vibrant colors, deeper blacks and sharper contrast, the HMD Odyssey also renders motions more smoothly. The larger screen size and 1440×1600 high-resolution picture quality per each display on the left and right, provide a fluid and lifelike virtual experience, with fast focusing and a clear and stable experience overall.

 

The HMD Odyssey’s 110-degree Field of View alters the boundaries of the mixed reality world. The scope is greater than that of other devices and closer to the average person’s 120-degree real world field of view, allowing you to explore and move through worlds without viewing distortion, for heightened realism.

 

 

Achieving True Immersion

Incorporating the sense of sound through its built-in headphones and mic, the HMD Odyssey adds another crucial dimension to the mixed reality experience.

 

 

I was pulled further into the world by the device’s 360° Spatial Sound. By simulating 3D sound using direction, distance and environment, 360° Spatial Sound allowed me to pinpoint the source of noise in the virtual realm. The whole effect encourages you to use your hearing as you would in the real world, listening through built-in AKG headsets which produce clear, world-class acoustic and bass.

 

Whether working together as a team to clear missions and battle enemies, or simply chatting to other players, it is well known that building bonds a key part of the gamer’s experience. I found these bonds are even tighter with the HMD Odyssey’s fitted array mic, which allows players to communicate with each other mid-game, without ever having to remove the headset.

 

To help me navigate Windows Mixed Reality, the HMD Odyssey came equipped with two 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DOF) motion controllers that tracked movements inside the mixed reality world. A tutorial guided me through using these tools when I first connected my device to a PC, in which I learnt how to maneuver through the world, performing actions like “teleport” to rapidly shift from one place to another.

 

 

I soon discovered that 6DOF goes beyond the three axes of regular VR controllers: I had the freedom to move not only straight – forward and back, up and down, left and right – but also in the rounded and rolling motions: yaw, pitch and roll. The HMD Odyssey headset also supports 6DOF, so that your head as well as your arms can control motion in the game.

 

 

 

Diving Into Windows Mixed Reality

The first place you will visit in your Windows Mixed Reality journey, and whenever you use the headset, is the Mixed Reality Portal. The portal appears in the virtual world as Cliff House, a spacious villa with an ocean view, that I could explore and customize to access all my Windows apps.

 

 

A wide range of apps and games can be downloaded from the Microsoft store, ready to make you feel totally immersed. There is also support for Steam VR, which has over 2,000 VR games in its catalogue**.

 

 

My first game was the music-themed Rock&Rails, an exhilarating thrill-ride. I struggled not to flinch or recoil as I flew through the sky, fighting off enemies by shooting from my guitar. Rock&Rails is available from the Microsoft store with purchase of the Samsung HMD Odyssey headset, so you can get into the game as soon as you unbox your device***.

 

With a set-up that is effortless, striking 1440×1600 resolution dual AMOLED displays, built-in AKG headphones and support for a wide range of games and media. Samsung’s HMD Odyssey provides all that you need to experience the exciting new realm of mixed reality.

 

 

*Windows Mixed Reality requires a compatible Windows 10 PC and the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Compatibility may be checked using the Windows Mixed Reality PC Check tool available on the Microsoft Store.

**Title availability is subject to change.

***Bundle availability may change with location and date.

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