Football tech, election predictions and perfectly fitting jeans – Weekend Reading: Oct. 14 edition

 |   Susanna Ray

Weather woes, election exhaustion, darkening days – there’s lots of justification this weekend for curling up on the couch with nibbles and beverages. Or for leaping off it and screaming at your television.

Either way, the NFL is sure to oblige with some distracting entertainment. And Microsoft Surface tablets will come in handy on both sides of the TV screen.

Surface Pro tablets are going into their fourth season helping the NFL’s pro football teams plan their plays. Coaches and players huddle on the sidelines, tuning out the deafening roar of the crowd, to analyze full-color images from previous offensive or defensive series and decide on their next drive. The updated Surface Pro 4 devices are lighter and come with improved daylight readability and better battery performance, with a thinner case that’s rugged enough to handle any weather.

“We live and die by those things on the sidelines,” says Brandon Fisher, defensive backs coach for the Los Angeles Rams. “When we’re not on the field we are adjusting, and everybody is surrounding the one Surface. That’s our livelihood on Sundays, those things.”

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Fans can count on Surface tablets and various apps to enhance their football experience. They can watch Thursday night games through Twitter live streaming on the Microsoft NFL app on Windows 10 devices and Xbox One. That app has been updated with new features such as sharing video highlights and saving favorite clips. Improvements to apps, including updated Next Gen Stats on players, will help fantasy football fans win within their leagues. And they can feel even more connected to their favorite team while they’re tapping away on their device, with a Microsoft Surface Special Edition NFL Type Cover around it.

And this season, fans will even get to find out who the best ‘Madden’ player in the NFL is. Xbox is putting eight players to the test to determine the top gamer in the Xbox NFL Player Charity Challenge, starting Oct. 18. Fans can fill out brackets before the tournament and submit weekly picks, with prizes for the winners.

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Microsoft welcomed six new countries to the world of mixed reality this week. Developers and commercial enterprises from Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are now able to pre-order HoloLens devices. Those countries will join the United States and Canada in enjoying the world’s first (and still only) self-contained holographic computer.

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Microsoft has invested billions into cutting-edge research on artificial intelligence, with the results evident in Office 365, Bing Predicts and Skype Translator, among other examples. Now you can add the new Dynamics 365 cloud service to the list.

Dynamics 365’s purpose-built apps address specific business needs. It’s designed to help improve manufacturing and supply chain execution, make field service operations more efficient, sell more effectively and ultimately deliver exceptional customer experiences, through built-in intelligence capabilities. And thanks to the cloud, you can start small and scale on-demand to deal with even the biggest business challenges.

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If you’re too addicted to the twists and turns of the U.S. presidential election to only watch football this weekend, check in with David Rothschild.

He’s an economist with Microsoft’s research organization in New York who’s providing continuously updated odds for the major party candidates. And he runs his own website, PredictWise, that hosts his probability forecasts for not only elections, but major sporting events, too. Rothschild bases his predictions on his academic research into digital betting markets as well as an evolving and growing trove of online polling, web search and social media data.

His research helps inform several other efforts across Microsoft product groups, too, including Bing Predicts’ election experience, which uses anonymized, aggregated web search data and other information for its forecasts.

“How people act on the web correlates to how they vote,” says Walter Sun, team lead for Bing Predicts.

David Rothschild Economist at Microsoft Research in New York City. Photo by Robert Caplin ©Robert Caplin
David Rothschild Economist at Microsoft Research in New York City. Photo by Robert Caplin
©Robert Caplin

You could also spend your weekend on the couch editing your photos to create new works of art. The newly redesigned PicsArt app has a new look and feel, along with three editing tools most requested by Windows users. Change the focus of your images, add light and shape effects with ease, and play around with hundreds of text and image overlays, brush filters and more.

Sketchable has been updated, too, improving the app that combines a physical notebook with the power and flexibility of the digital world, with a streamlined interface and improved color picker, among other features.

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This week on the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, we highlighted Rian Buckley, a former model turned fashion technology startup founder. By combining both business-building Microsoft tools and her years of fashion industry knowledge, Rian is decoding the denim industry to help women find their perfect fit.

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Whether you hibernate with your Xbox or grab your Surface tablet and head to the stadium, we hope you have a great weekend, and be sure to check back next Friday for another edition of Weekend Reading.

Susanna Ray

Microsoft News Center Staff