Around this time each year, the internet is full of pranks and publicity stunts geared toward grabbing their readers’ attention. While we’re playing it straight on the MPN blog, we want to share a few interesting projects and products in the works here at Microsoft that even we hardly believe are real. Our partners are familiar with the technology that is disrupting the industry on a daily basis, but you might want to take a second look at some of these projects. Are they fact or the stuff of fiction?
You Might Lose Your Job to a Robot
Fact – AI and Industry Automation
According to a recent study by PwC, almost 40% of jobs in the U.S. may be replaceable by robots in the near future. The study estimates that 30% of jobs in the U.K. are similarly at risk, along with 35% of jobs in Germany and 21% in Japan. On a global scale, the jobs most at risk of being done by new technologies are in industries related to transportation, manufacturing and retail. The U.S. saw a higher percentage of jobs threatened by automation because more workers are employed in positions that require routinized tasks, such as filling out paperwork. Japan, on the other hand, is projected to see fewer jobs lost in part because a number of at-risk jobs are already performed by automated processes, such as the use of vending machines at fast food restaurants.
Virtual Reality Is Empowering Astronauts
Fact – HoloLens
If you thought virtual reality was just about video games and movies, you have a thing or two to learn about VR. Devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens are being used in increasingly creative ways to address some very real world problems. In 2015, Microsoft teamed up with NASA on project Sidekick which enables astronauts aboard the International Space Station to provide virtual assistance to station crews. HoloLens provides support through a “Remote Expert Mode” which allows a ground operator to provide real-time guidance and a “Procedure Mode” which augments standalone procedures with animated holographic illustrations.
Then take what the Smithsonian is doing to educate future space explorers. The Smithsonian X 3D project launches a set of use cases which apply various 3D capture methods to some of their most iconic collections, including scans from the Apollo 11 Command Module. While HoloLens is still in its early days, it’s clear this technology has the potential to transform the museum experience and give access to millions of students around the world who would otherwise never have the chance to learn about these history-making missions and culture defining collections.
Data Is Safer In the Cloud Than On-Premises
Fact – Office 365, Windows, Azure
If you are still under the impression that storing your data or housing your systems on premise is safer, you are falling behind the times. It’s becoming increasingly clear that on-premises systems aren’t inherently more secure than they’d be in the cloud. That is in part due to the growing problem of cyber theft and overall digital security. For the businesses who are unable to employ a full-service security team or partner, working with Microsoft through cloud-based products like Office 365 offers enterprise-level security at a much more manageable subscription fee.
Considering that Microsoft hires the best and brightest security minds, it makes sense that products like Office 365 and Azure offer security as a key feature. To make sure that our cloud offerings provide the latest in cyber security protection, the Office 365 security team relies on features like as the Security Development Lifecycle, traffic throttling, and preventing, detecting, and mitigating breaches that many companies don’t have the resources to ensure. To top it off, Office 365 has a 99.9% (financially backed) uptime guarantee, making the security of cloud technology surprisingly well-rooted in the fact category.
VR Devices Will Increase Social Interaction and Make You More Productive
Fact – HoloLens and Windows 10 VR Headset
Just as the rise of social networking sites has changed social interaction, virtual reality is projected to do the same. But that doesn’t validate the myth that everyone will get lost in their own virtual realities. VR devices are powerful tools for connecting with others and for getting work done. HoloLens will provide gamers the opportunity to play with friends who are physically located near or far, and Skype for HoloLens will bring users together with friends, family, and colleagues to collaborate through video chat and shared holograms.
Similarly, the flip out screen and the multitasking features on the Windows 10 VR headsets are designed to make it easy to quickly switch between familiar apps like Twitter and fully immersive software programs or games. Being able to access frequently used Windows apps while immersed in the VR experience enables users to stay productive.
The Predicted End of Console Games
Fiction – Xbox and Project Scorpio
While virtual and augmented reality devices are sure to have an impact on the gaming experience, it’s certainly not considered the end of console games. In an interview with Engadget last year, Microsoft’s head of Xbox games marketing Aaron Greenberg put it this way, “If you bought games and accessories for your Xbox One…those games and those accessories are going to work on Project Scorpio. When you think about backward compatibility and our games lineup, we want gamers to know that when they’re ready to upgrade to Scorpio, that content will go with them. It’s one ecosystem –whether you have an Xbox One S or Project Scorpio, we don’t want anyone to be left behind.”
How do you see the latest disruptive technologies making science fiction into reality? Share your thoughts in the comments below.