Challenge for Change winners inspire, apps keep your devices in sync and Kinect powers a symphony — Weekend Reading: May 29 edition

Young people who just might change the world, apps to help you achieve more and a first-of-its-kind musical performance were just a few of this week’s highlights. Before you settle into a relaxing weekend, take a look back at the news and find some great reasons to feel inspired.

challengeChangeWinners_collage

Ten teens and young adults with cool ideas to do good in the world won Microsoft’s YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest. Winner Abhishek Paudel is now even more dedicated to bringing health care to remote areas of Nepal after the April earthquake destroyed his family’s entire village, and Dana Berejka, who learned about the sad toll of malaria when a little girl she was corresponding with in Rwanda died from it, plans to help protect others from the disease.

Paudel, Berejka and the other eight winners each get $2,500 to kick-start their projects, a Windows Phone and an incredible trip to Nicaragua to do hands-on volunteer work. If you want to be inspired — and possibly feel like an underachiever — you can read more about these ambitious young people and their big ideas to change the world.

Of course you, too, can do more in the world with a couple of cool new apps coming to Windows 10 that let you move seamlessly among all of your devices regardless of which operating system you’re using. The Phone Companion app on Windows 10 PCs will help you set up a Windows phone, Android Phone or iPhone to make sure your photos, music, documents and other important stuff are there wherever you are.

The second app is good news for Android and iPhone users: You’ll soon be able to access Cortana, letting you take advantage of all the great perks of having Microsoft’s super-smart digital personal assistant bring some order to your busy life.

Android tab

And more good news comes from the company’s “cross-platform services strategy to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device,” writes Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Original Equipment Manufacturer Division: Microsoft apps and services will now be available on even more Android tablets. Agreements with 20 new device partners, including LG, Sony and Haier, mean a total of 31 partners will soon offer Android tablets pre-installed with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype.

Symphony

And speaking of new partners, what happens when you pair a gifted symphony maestro with Kinect? The result was a 20-minute performance that captivated audience members who were lucky enough to attend the one-of-a kind event. Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot used the motion-sensing technology to control a set of reed horns, chimes and a grand piano to play “Above, Below and In Between,” by Seattle-based kinetic sculptor Trimpin. Learn more about the two-year effort in this video.

Morlot says the idea of conducting with Kinect took him out of his comfort zone. “I’ve been old-fashioned in a way, studying music. The element of bringing technology to it is foreign to me,” he says. “That’s what attracted me to it.”

busline

Another novel idea is giving kids in southwest Detroit a safe, reliable way to get to tech classes, reading programs and sports camps. The Detroit Bus Company’s efforts are featured in a series about how entrepreneurs are reshaping a post-bankruptcy Detroit. Learn more about the bus line’s creator, Andy Didorosi, and others who break boundaries and #DoMore on Microsoft’s Instagram page.

photo caption

Ever need to write a quick caption for a photo? Soon, a computer could be doing it for you. Microsoft researchers are developing technology that can automatically identify the subjects in a picture, interpret what’s happening and write an accurate caption explaining it. Beyond being a useful tool, it shows big promise for Microsoft’s work in the artificial intelligence arena.

Rhonna designs

Looking for a little flair for your photos instead? You can add some style with Rhonna Designs, our app of the week. Or for some weekend adventure, dive in and save humanity in “Overkill 3” — new for Windows — or battle villains in “Monster GO!” Too much pressure? Popping balloons as you navigate a twisty maze in “Bloons TD 5” might be the way to go.

And from this edition of Weekend Reading, that’s a wrap! Time for you to find your own ways to change the world — or at least enjoy your Saturday and Sunday.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff