Weekend Reading: Jan. 24th Edition – Kinect for Windows is helping stroke victims, Microsoft’s datacenter project will use fuel cells and Zippo chooses Microsoft Dynamics AX

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about Kinect for Windows helping stroke victims, Microsoft’s Data Center plant project in Wyoming looking to bring a power plant inside the datacenter, and historic company Zippo Manufacturing Co. planning for the future using Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Kinect for Windows, already used in physical rehabilitation, is being used by different research teams to help stroke victims. One team in Canada, the other a collaborative team of Microsoft and academic researchers in Asia, are working on separate projects to help stroke victims accelerate recovery and increase adherence to rehab with interactive, game-like exercises that use Kinect for Windows motion capture technology. A key benefit of the approach is that patients are more likely to do their prescribed exercises, since 65 percent fail to follow their rehabilitation regimens, writes Shawn Errunza of Jintronix, a Montreal-based medical technology startup.

Microsoft datacenter research manager Sean James sees energy gold – and green – in waste and in fuel cells, and is working on a project in Wyoming, with other company partners, to see if the net result can be to eliminate energy loss inside datacenters and increase their efficiency. “Datacenters today pull a lot of energy off of the grid; they make up about 2 percent of the national energy consumption just in the U.S.,” James said. “Between 2003 and 2006, it doubled from about 1 percent. There are estimates from the Department of Energy that it’s going to double again in the next few years.” If Microsoft can figure out ways of “getting our energy more efficiently from other means, there’s going to be a lot of other tech companies that have datacenters that can follow our lead, and we can potentially curtail that doubling a bit.”


Sean James

Zippo celebrates its 80th anniversary – and looks to the future by choosing Microsoft Dynamics AX. Zippo Manufacturing Co. is celebrating eight decades in business, and also owns W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery, an American maker of premium, hand-crafted knives. But Zippo recently found that its IT infrastructure “wasn’t keeping up” with the times and chose Microsoft Dynamics AX as a solution “that could support our future growth plans.” Microsoft Dynamics AX offers “the cutting-edge technology we needed to support our long-term growth,” wrote Zippo’s James Barnes, manager of continuous improvement, and Chuk Roberts, director of information technology. What’s more, they said, “Microsoft is continuing to invest in the solution at a rate that’s keeping pace with our future needs.”

The final version of Update 1 for Visual Studio 2013 became available, a “targeted update, addressing some key areas of customer feedback since the Visual Studio 2013 release,” noted S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft. The update arrives “as we finish up a great wave of Visual Studio 2013 launch events. Two million developers watched the Visual Studio launch videos online, and tens of thousands joined in person at events around the world.” Also, Visual Studio 2013 was recognized as an InfoWorld 2014 Technology of the Year Award winner recently. You can find full details about Visual Studio 2013 changes here. You can download the update now, or wait to get it through the Visual Studio update notification in the coming weeks.

Surface is becoming a familiar companion in classrooms around the world, including the Tuckahoe School District in New York, St. Thomas School and the Puyallup School District in Washington, Fursund Skole in Denmark, and St Mary’s College in Northern Ireland and the Supreme Education Council of Qatar.This week, members of the Surface team were in London with global leaders in education at the annual BETT (British Educational Training and Technology) Show. At St Patrick’s College in London, a vocational college for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, second-year students are each being given a Surface, pre-loaded with Office, to prepare them for their careers. Malcom Thompson, St Patrick’s College technology professor, says in the video below that “Surface is meeting the students’ needs. It’s small, thin and light and yet powerful.” Adds Vincente Fraser, the college’s chief information officer: “To a student that’s very useful, because it’s just as good as if they were on a desktop.”

The Windows Store saw fresh arrivals for those who have either football on their brains, other games or even getting better organized. No matter which team you’ll be rooting for in the Super Bowl, you’ll want to connect with the “NFL Connect” app, which takes the best elements of watching the game with your friends, and enhances them with direct head-to-head competition. Among the staff app picks: Coach’s Eye, for recording and analyzing everything from your pitcher’s fastball to straightening your golf swing, and the Plex app for Windows and Windows Phone 8 to help you organize and stream your videos, music, photos and home movies to your Windows devices. Windows Phone’s growing community of indie developers are showcased in “The Next Big Thing” collection of 36 of their creations in one place, including “Adventure Town,” where monsters have leveled a once-peaceful hamlet, “Call of Arena,” in which you reign as a lord of a gladiator empire and “Trial Xtreme 3,” that puts you and your bike into obstacles such as mines and water pipes over 112 original courses. The Weather Channel app for Windows PCs and tablets got a major re-do and now provides severe weather alerts and revamped Live tiles that let you know what’s going on outside your house – or wherever you’re traveling. And the Bing Sports app for Windows Phone 8 adds player profiles, personalized news and details on live games and better ways to keep track of live games.


This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we revved up our desktops with this free Xbox One Racing theme for Windows.


That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for visiting, and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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