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Looking back on an unprecedented quarter: customers embrace technology to advance industry innovation, respond to COVID-19 and plan for the future

It is predicted that by 2030, there will be a $4 trillion opportunity focused on new mobility services, as the automotive and transportation sectors converge.

This year has been unlike any other. As we welcomed the new decade, we witnessed industry-leading innovations by our customers and partners at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and National Retail Federation (NRF) conferences in January. We announced ambitious new sustainability initiatives and how we plan to help our customers reduce their carbon footprint. Then COVID-19 changed everything, disrupting business as usual and forcing organizations across industries to navigate a new landscape. As we work through the effects of the pandemic together, it is incredible to see how technology is enabling our customers to be agile and maintain business continuity. We are also seeing them adapt and scale to sustain critical products and services — all while preparing for a post-pandemic comeback and the new normal.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers the opening keynote at NRF 2020, sharing his thoughts on the future of retail and how technology can help the industry transform.

Groundbreaking innovation across industries

The first quarter of calendar year 2020 began with a strong focus on what is next in automotive and our participation at CES, a global technology event. The industry is transforming at an incredible speed, quickly shaping the future of mobility and the automotive experience by using cloud, edge, IoT and AI services. Faurecia, a leading automotive technology company is using the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, Teams and Project xCloud to help people stay connected, productive and entertained while in the car. LG Electronics is working to build its automotive infotainment systems with our Azure cloud and AI services, and ZF is transforming into a software-driven mobility provider using Microsoft’s cloud services and developer tools.

At NRF, the world’s largest retail conference, Satya Nadella delivered the opening keynote, sharing ways we are working with retailers to help them better understand their customers, empower employees with digital tools, create a more intelligent supply chain through co-innovation and ultimately reimagine their businesses. During the event, Walgreens Boots Alliance announced it is piloting an immersive mixed reality training program for its employees using HoloLens 2. IKEA shared how it is deploying Microsoft Teams to more than 70,000 workers (including first-line employees) to increase productivity, and H&M shared how Azure IoT is helping propel its continued work toward a more sustainable future for the fashion industry by offering smart garment recycling bins in select stores around the world. Canada Goose, one the world’s largest makers of luxury performance apparel, showed how the company is building on the principle of the endless aisle using Dynamics 365 Commerce software to offer its entire range of products to customers without any physical stock in the store, and Home Depot bet on Microsoft PromoteIQ to help maximize the nearly 170 million monthly visitors on its e-commerce site with the PromoteIQ end-to-end commerce marketing platform. Samsung announced a new smartphone with a push-to-talk button that will leverage the new Walkie Talkie feature available in Microsoft Teams, providing first-line workers like retail employees easier ways to communicate on the job.

In February, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bosch Group and ZF Friedrichshafen signed up as steering committee members of the Open Manufacturing Platform — founded by Microsoft and BMW in 2019  — to help manufacturing companies accelerate innovation at scale through cross-industry collaboration, knowledge and data sharing.

The emergence of a pandemic

As the fight against COVID-19 continues, I am encouraged by how customers are using technology to respond.

On the frontlines, care teams are using technology to scale their triage process to address the overwhelming number of patients needing care and to ease volume in the system. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a COVID-19 assessment bot, powered by Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service running on Azure, to help organizations screen patients for potential infection and care options. These bots use artificial intelligence to help pre-screen patients and provide guidance on care plans, reducing the burden on medical professionals. Swedish Health Services built a mobile app to help hospital staff and administrators monitor resources, protective gear and ventilator use. The app syncs with hospital dashboards powered by the Power Platform emergency response solution to help manage bed count and inventory of critical supplies while sharing the information across the region to help other health professionals prepare their facilities.

Telemedicine is also enabling healthcare providers to continue delivering treatment. For example, Microsoft Teams has allowed doctors at St. Luke’s University Health Network to safely perform more than 75,000 virtual visits with patients vulnerable to the virus, while minimizing direct exposure and preserving valuable resources like masks and gloves.

In education, we are working with schools around the world to enable a remote learning system that fosters a culture of learning outside the classroom — as schools, universities, students and parents adopt the tools necessary for distance-learning models. That includes making Teams available for free for students and educators. The University of Bologna moved 90% of courses for its 80,000 students online to Teams within three days. AI is also playing a critical role in keeping students engaged and learning. The University of Sydney built an AI-infused bot using Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services that responds to students’ questions about COVID-19, providing instant answers and access to additional resources. At Case Western Reserve University, medical students are using Microsoft HoloLens to continue immersive remote learning without falling behind in classwork. In a larger-scale effort to support educators, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is launching a global e-learning initiative to minimize educational disruptions and maintain social contact.  Microsoft has joined this coalition to contribute resources and technology expertise to ensure #LearningNeverStops.

In response to the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) directed the majority of its workforce to work remotely and created the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) Environment to provide secure teleworking capabilities to millions of users across the entire department. Our continued work with the DoD will lead to the single largest tenant of Office 365 and Microsoft Teams in the coming weeks, with the speed of deployment exceeding anything before it.

A quiet Microsoft Commons in Redmond, Washington as employees work from home in the time of COVID-19.

We are working across industries to accelerate research for a cure for COVID-19 and recently announced our participation in a new consortium alongside and top universities to apply AI toward this pandemic challenge. The institute’s work aims to slow the spread of COVID-19, speed the development of medical treatments, predict its evolution and improve public health strategies. Additionally, Microsoft joined the White House-led consortium to provide COVID-19 researchers worldwide access to the most powerful High Performance Computing resources to significantly accelerate the pace of scientific discovery. As we strive to support our customers through technology, we are also doing our part to ensure our employees remain safe while contributing to efforts to protect public health and the well-being of our communities.

Planning for the future

In recent weeks, we have shared details about groundbreaking new partnerships in the financial services sector, major league sports and consumer goods and services. BlackRock is moving its Aladdin platform to Microsoft Azure, the NBA is redefining and personalizing the fan experience through Azure and its AI capabilities, and last week, as part of our deep partnership with the NFL, Microsoft Teams and Surface were part of the technology solution that brought the first-ever virtual NFL Draft to life. Just today, The Coca-Cola Company announced it is standardizing business operations on Microsoft’s cloud to modernize how the company engages with employees and customers. In addition, in late March, we announced an agreement to acquire Affirmed Networks, a leader in fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network solutions. This acquisition, which closed last week, will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators, while we continue to focus on interoperability and strong partnerships with suppliers, emerging innovators and other stakeholders to extend cloud-based, software-defined networking into the world of 5G connectivity.

I am deeply inspired by how our customers and partners across every industry are harnessing digital tools to navigate an uncertain landscape. While COVID-19 has disrupted lives, the resilience we see today gives me confidence that we will be prepared to build a new normal together, full of opportunity and powered by innovation and ingenuity.

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Where’s the Zoom of VR?

Remote collaboration tools like Zoom are gathering massive amounts of attention as people begin working from home en masse. But, as with most trends, virtual reality seems to be sitting out this boom.
This should be surprising to absolutely no one, but the lack of widespread adoption is not for …

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XYZ Reality secures £5M to bring a hologram headset to the construction industry

Augmented Reality technology did not, it turned out, light the touch paper on a booming new industry. What we got instead was a few cute applications on smartphones and devices like Microsoft’s Hololens, which has seen pretty limited success.
Where AR has proved that it may have a future …

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How Mixed Reality Brings the Virtual Hospital to You

Illustration: © IoT For All

The field of healthcare is constantly revolutionizing. Although, there are many challenges that doctors and other medical professionals face in treating patients. The advancement in Microsoft’s HoloLens technology has brought a huge shift in how hospitals, medical clinics, and other modern healthcare setups deliver care to patients.

Major Challenges in Healthcare

Many hospitals and medical clinics still depend on traditional technologies to interact with patients and read paper charts to get an overview of a patient’s health condition. In many cases, neurosurgeons face difficulty in performing CT scans of the patient. It is because the CT scan causes claustrophobia to several patients due to the noise and the enclosed pattern of the machine. Also, doctors need medical scans and records for detailed analysis, but loading and modifying electronic medical records of thousands of patients is a bulky process.

A team of medical professionals consists of receptionists, nurses, doctors and other professionals who need seamless coordination with each other during patients’ treatment. Also, it becomes challenging for them to work as a team by relying on multiple devices for communication, recalling diagnostic charts and other data.

Mixed Reality – Working Wonders in the Healthcare Industry

The new version of Microsoft HoloLens has unveiled cutting-edge features that can impact the healthcare industry to a great extent. Let’s check out some of the ways in which these features are empowering medical professionals to improve the doctor-patient relationship.

Contextual Patient Data Visualization

MR headsets can detect patients and instantly provide relevant medical information to doctors, saving time during interactions and allowing doctors to respond to emergencies quicker than before. Just being able to observe a patient’s vital signs without having to read screens or derive paperwork can save a lot of valuable time and allow for more convenient patient interactions.

Also, using MR enables elderly patients to receive hospital-level care and treatment at home where they feel more comfortable and hospitals would also get a benefit of free hospital beds for other critically ill patients.

The HoloLens app is also helpful to patients who need to travel often due to frequent doctor appointments with specialists by saving their time and money while still delivering personalized care to them. This enables the health care facility to utilize the same amount of time for other critical patients.

Generally, mixed reality application enables real-time interaction with medical professionals via hologram technology. It also allows care providers to share information hands-free as well as record patient data in real-time via a virtual dashboard. This advancement combines real-life, video conferencing and projected holograms to facilitate nurses’ and clinicians’ in accessing information and services as and when needed.

Holographic Surgical Planning

The MR application provides Virtual Surgery Intelligence (VSI) to physicians to show patients their own MRI scans and explain the level of complication in a surgical procedure in a visual format. Not only that, but MR apps helps to reduce doctor’s response time and improve surgical accuracy, thereby offering an enhanced patient experience. For example, if a patient needs to undergo a complicated surgery, the doctor is able to show diagnostic images to the patient with the help of the VSI feature of mixed reality. This feature helps the patient and the doctor to share the same field of view (FOV). In this way, doctors can discuss, plan, and initiate their treatment procedure, thereby reducing response time in inpatient care.

Onsite/Remote Surgery Assistance

Furthermore, by wearing HoloLens, surgeons can have their hands free for surgery, as well as use microphones and sensors to communicate with other surgeons in different parts of the world making collaboration seamless. All these features including simulations and information extraction make mixed reality a valuable asset in improving surgical performance.

The Final Say

These are just some of the notable advantages of Microsoft HoloLens that prove that the future of healthcare is heavily reliant on mixed reality technology. These advancements make it feasible for medical professionals to hone their skills and attend hundreds of patients virtually without even touching them. Besides, using an MR application enables seamless collaboration between physical and digital objects to provide a better quality of treatment and patient experience. To know more about how to implement a HoloLens app for your healthcare organization, talk to our experts.

Source: IoT For All

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Will Apple, Facebook or Microsoft be the future of augmented reality?

Apple is seen by some as critical to the future of augmented reality, despite limited traction for ARKit so far and its absence from smartglasses (again, so far). Yet Facebook, Microsoft and others are arguably more important to where the market is today.

While there are more AR platforms than just these companies, they represent the top of the pyramid for three different types of AR roadmap. And while startup insurgents could make a huge difference, big platforms can exert disproportionate influence on the future of tech markets. Let’s see what this could mean for the future of AR.

Facebook: The messaging play

Facebook has talked about its long-term potential to launch smartglasses, but in 2020, its primary presence in the AR market is as a mobile AR platform (note: Facebook is also a VR market leader with Oculus). Although there are other ways to define them, mobile AR platforms can be thought of as three broad types:

  1. messaging-based (e.g. Facebook Messenger, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Line)
  2. OS-based (e.g. Apple ARKit, Google ARCore)
  3. web-based (e.g. 8th Wall, Torch, others)

Source: TechCrunch