Fighting mosquito-borne diseases, celebrating student developers — Weekend Reading: June 24 edition

It was another full week at Microsoft, which was busy trapping mosquitoes, celebrating Imagine Cup World finalists and helping small farmers in Mexico turn animal waste into clean energy. Let’s take a look.

To help prevent mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika, health officials in Houston’s Harris County are wielding a new mosquito trap that’s part of Microsoft’s broader Project Premonition research project. The innovative prototype was built to automatically do things that entomologists can’t do, or have to do by hand, and has the potential to help public health agencies fight an outbreak before it becomes a major threat.

The trap is designed to collect a specified type of mosquito, instead of a hodgepodge of insects. It can tell researchers when a mosquito was trapped and the temperature, wind speed and humidity at the time.

“We’ll have a plethora of data we never had before about the behavior of the insects,” said Ethan Jackson, a Microsoft researcher who is leading Project Premonition.

Imagine Cup 2016 finalists

Microsoft also announced the 35 student teams from around the globe that will be heading to the 2016 Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle on July 26-29. The teams’ projects range from incredible game concepts to life-saving devices to solutions that could revolutionize the way we do business. The finalists will compete in their respective categories for a $50,000 prize. One team will also win the grand prize — the coveted Imagine Cup and a private mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Also this week, Microsoft achieved a major compliance milestone with confirmation from the federal government that Azure Government is now accredited for processing data of the highest impact level. The FedRAMP High accreditation covers 13 customer-facing, Azure Government services, allowing more agencies to migrate high-impact-level data to the cloud.

“This accreditation helps demonstrate our differentiated ability to support the unique needs of government agencies as they transition to the cloud,” wrote Susie Adams, chief technology officer for Microsoft Federal.

Eliza Esquivel

Eliza Esquivel

The week saw big news for Office Marking, with the arrival of Eliza Esquivel, one of the most creative women in advertising. As senior director of brand, strategy and naming, Esquivel and her senior team of strategists will define and tell the story of brands like Office 365, Skype and Outlook, going beyond the products’ features to show the indispensable role they play in the lives of people around the world.

“I’ve always wanted to work in technology, and I am obsessed with the future,” Esquivel said. “In this day and age, there’s a real sense that a lot of where the creativity is happening is in the technology space.”

Microsoft won a prestigious Silver Lion award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for its #MakeWhatsNext campaign celebrating girls and women. Anchored by a collection of videos, the campaign encourages girls and women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The Next Rembrandt,” a 3D-printed painting made solely from data of Rembrandt’s work, also received festival honors, including an Innovation Award and two Grand Prix. A great example of creative collaboration and technology, the project was produced by J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam in partnership with ING Bank and technology partners including Microsoft Azure.

In app news, the App of the Week was the all-new SiriusXM on Windows 10, which delivers commercial-free music, along with exclusive sports, talk, comedy, entertainment programming and access to hundreds of on-demand shows. You can custom-mix SiriusXM channels, use it with Cortana and download the app for free from the Windows Store. If you don’t already have a subscription, you can try it out for free for 30 days.

Alex Eaton

Alex Eaton

And finally this week on the Microsoft Tumblr channel, we discovered how Alex Eaton’s international business, Sistema Biobolsa, is transforming sustainable farming practices in rural Mexico. Using Microsoft technology, Eaton is now sharing his bio-digester system with farmers around the world.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff