A gaze forward to tomorrow’s medicine, athletes, artists and internet – Weekend Reading: Feb. 24 edition

We admire the future – from 3D operating rooms to a young athlete’s rise to a universe five centuries ahead – in the latest Weekend Reading.

Let’s begin at the most distant milepost, the year 2559, when the UNSC warship Spirit of Fire has embarked on a new journey. Awaiting its human crew are a savage mob known as the Banished. If those sentences hit home, you’re undoubtedly immersed in “Halo Wars 2,” following its recent worldwide launch on “Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

The new version dropped eight years after “Halo Wars,” which prompted Dan Ayoub, studio head of Strategy Games at 343 Industries, to thank fans for their patience, as so many waited so long “to get their ‘ALL UNITS’ on again.” For those new to real-time strategy (RTS) games, the producers hope to entice you with strong characters, including an intriguing new female face for Halo, and another epic expedition in our universe as players turn Grunts into cheerfully exploding confetti.

Virginia Wade at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington.

On the slopes, young skier Virginia Wade works to sharpen her skills and never feels nervous during races. If she falls, she leans on a spirited philosophy that’s shaped her life: “I get back up.”

Next month, she’ll travel from her home in Seattle to Austria to ski in one of her biggest events ever, the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. Wade, who has Down syndrome, is one of 22 skiers chosen to represent the U.S. women’s alpine team in the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event.

Hospitals must design operating rooms that accommodate the needs of myriad surgical disciplines that occupy the very same space – from general to orthopedic to cardiac and more. Within each category, medical teams need different lighting, tools and even patient orientation. That means the current model of OR design must evolve from 2D to 3D, writes Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences.

Stryker, a leading global medical technology company, is using HoloLens to build the OR of the future. By tapping the mixed reality capabilities of HoloLens, surgical teams can work with holograms, at full size and scale, in the actual operating room – no bulky equipment required, just a headset.

Priyanka Bali, right, with her husband and daughter at the Common Service Centre she operates in her native village. (Photo courtesy of RingMD)

Three years ago, Justin Fulcher founded RingMD after the American entrepreneur was moved during a trip to Indonesia. There, he saw a man drinking water he’d scooped from the ground. Fulcher then spotted the man’s mobile phone and wondered if technology might help fill the obvious gap in health care. RingMD, his Singapore-based startup, now operates in nine languages across 10 countries, including India, Pakistan and Thailand.

The RingMD platform, hosted in the Microsoft Cloud, connects doctors not only to rural patients but also to urban residents around the world who lack time to go to clinics and wait for appointments. To learn more about RingMD’s work, head to the Microsoft Transform blog.

With support from Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative Grant Fund, African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED) is further developing the SHIRIKI hub, a mobile solar kiosk that provides Wi-Fi connectivity and other mobile services in Rwanda. (Photo courtesy of ARED)

By 2020, people around the world should have universal and affordable access to the internet, according to a new sustainable development agenda adopted by United Nations member states. This will help “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all,” the agreement reads. But nearly 4 billion people still lack internet access, and time is running out to meet that goal.

A new report authored by SSG Advisors, the United States Agency for International Development and the Digital Impact Alliance pinpoints actions that private and public sectors can take to quickly close the access gap, says Paul Garnett, director of the Affordable Access Initiative for Microsoft.

Scene from the movie ’12 Years a Slave.’

As you look ahead on a more limited scale, say, to your weekend – including Hollywood’s biggest night Sunday – you can catch up on these award-winning movies for just $4.99 HD, and enjoy a $5 Windows Store gift card to spend on even more movies, games, apps or music. The offer ends Monday. Once you own these movies, you can watch across any Windows 10 device or Xbox console or download for offline viewing.

For another helping of weekend entertainment, “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” on Windows 10 Mobile is now available, giving “Minecraft” players on Windows 10 Mobile features they love: Realms, The End, Texture Packs, Add-Ons and more.

And to complete our digital trek into the future, we need the proper soundtrack. Who to turn to? Of course, the hip hop artist Future, whose beats are now streaming on Microsoft Groove.

We now return you to today. But check back next Friday for another Weekend Reading.

Posted by Bill Briggs
Microsoft News Center Staff