AI harnesses nature to fly motor-less glider, mixed reality web series debuts and back-to-school apps go on sale – Weekend Reading: Aug. 18 edition

| Thomas Kohnstamm

The end of August is vacation season and—while many Microsoft employees are currently away from their desks and computers—the company continues its drumbeat of exciting news. Join us for this edition of Weekend Reading and learn recent highlights from Microsoft far and wide.

Speaking of late summer, it was in the the searing midday heat of the Nevada desert that Microsoft researchers recently tested a system that uses artificial intelligence to keep a sailplane (a type of glider) in the air without using a motor.

The complex AI system, which can identify things like air temperature, wind direction and areas where it isn’t allowed, autonomously finds and catches rides on naturally occurring thermals, similar to how many birds stay aloft. The work is a testbed for AI technologies in unpredictable environments.

A new web series called “Making mixed reality” celebrates developers, designers and artists using Windows Mixed Reality to create apps and experiences.

The series debuted Wednesday with a conversation with Lucas Rizzotto, an award-winning mixed reality creator, technologist and designer. Rizzotto has two HoloLens apps in the Windows Store: MyLab, a chemistry education app, and CyberSnake, a game that incorporates spatial sound and holographic burgers.

Every successful company will become a digital business in the near future. But not every company making that attempt will find success. Why do some companies fall short in their digital transformation efforts?

The three primary factors for failure include modernizing only the business applications, data centers or network infrastructure and then stopping, writes Anand Eswaran, corporate vice president of Microsoft Digital, Services, and Success on Microsoft Transform. “…You have to rethink everything from how we work and the future of customer experiences, to products and business models,” Eswaran writes.

Microsoft has acquired Cycle Computing, a leader in cloud computing orchestration, to help make it easier than ever for customers to use High-Performance Computing (HPC) and other Big Computing capabilities in the cloud.

“For too long, Big Computing has been accessible only to the most well-funded organizations. At Microsoft, we believe that access to Big Computing capabilities in the cloud has the power to transform many businesses and will be at the forefront of breakthrough experimentation and innovation in the decades to come,” writes Jason Zander, Microsoft Azure corporate vice president.

If you’re getting ready for fall classes and activities, the Back-to-School Discounted Apps Collection in the Windows Store has some great deals. They include 20 percent off Complete Anatomy in-app purchases, 30 percent off Stagelight in-app purchases and 50 percent off Movie Edit Plus Pro Windows Store Edition.

This week on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, we featured Sky Yi. Sky is a middle school student who wrote a letter to Brad Smith as an assignment for one of his classes. Upon receiving the note, Brad traveled to the middle school in Nevada to surprise Sky. This letter reminded us about the power of education and, as everyone is heading back to school, we’re celebrating the sharp students and dedicated teachers whose passions for learning empower us all.

Thanks for joining us for Weekend Reading. Check back next Friday for another round-up of the week’s top events.

Thomas Kohnstamm
Microsoft News Center Staff