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Welcome to Microsoft: the House of the Future!

At last once in our lives we used Microsoft products, starting from operating systems to the new PCs and tablets…we have to admit, we are all a bit nerd. So, when we were given the opportunity last Tuesday to visit the big colossus, we accepted without conditions.

“We are at the dawn of a new industrial revolution. After the first industrial revolution (the vapor), the second one (electricity) and the third one (with the first calculators) that ended in 2015, it’s starting now the fourth one: the industrial revolution 4.0. Indeed we are learning to transfer and transform every digital information; and it touches everything: physics (3D printer are an example), biology (genetic mapping) and digital (bitcoin, blockchain and IoT’s technologies).”

Andrea Benedetti, Technical Evangelism Director Microsoft Italia.

The digital transformation and the Future Trends

Amazon, Google, Facebook…Which lesson could we learn from these market leaders? Which is the key-factor they share? Software, this is the answer. The software is where the real value lies: Big data, cloud and intelligence. Ladies and Gentlemen, let us introduce you the digital transformation. Password? Future, future, future. And Microsoft got it. Indeed, now it’s focusing on three different areas that represent the three future trends: quantum computing, artificial intelligence and the mixed reality.

Quantum computing – a new way to think about technology

Have you ever heard about Moore’s law? This theory finds its origins in an empirical research which discovered that the number of transistor in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years (this has been made possible by the fact that is possible to halve the size of a transistor). But… it has a limit. Soon or later transistors couldn’t be smaller. “What’s going to happen? Everything will stop? Surely not: we will have to change the way we think about technology. Quantum computers are arriving, people!” tells Andrea “ They are totally different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors. A Google’s quantum computer is 100 million times faster than your laptop.” It’s possible because it works with particles that can be in superposition: rather than representing bits, these particles represent qubits (quantum bits), which can take on the value 0, 1 or both simultaneously.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is the simulation of our cognitive thinking process, applied to machines. AI is everywhere today: let’s think for example about every time Netflix chooses for us films and series just considering our own preferences, even though we never directly mentioned them. Andrea told us that he has tried an AI system also at home. He took a photo of a closed jar of Nutella and of an open one. Then he took a photo of his little son. Have you already understood what was his intent? He installed some hidden cameras and sent the photos to the system: every time that his child opened the jar a message arrived on his smartphone! But if instead of the nutella jar we put a suitcase abandoned in a station? And instead of Andrea’s son a potential terrorist?

Microsoft has developed Microsoft Bot Framework in order to build, connect, deploy, and manage intelligent bots to naturally interact with users on a website, app, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and more.

Mixed Reality – the HoloLens

Augmented Reality adds a digital layer on the real-world environment (as Pokemon-Go), whereas Virtual reality simulates a realistic experience: you are totally surrounded by the virtual environment. The main negative aspect of this technology is that during the virtual experience our brain receives different information: you are moving in the virtual world but at the same time you are sit on your sofa, not moving at all. After a while the brain might perceive a danger and you could feel sick (stomach-ache, nausea, feint).

Mixed Reality is what Microsoft has created with HoloLens: this system is able to understand the environment and interact with it. Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained holographic computer that allows you to project and using your digital content into the world around you.

HoloLens is a “worn computer” that has a computing power equal to a last-generation PC (Windows 10). It weighs 900 gr and is composed of 4 HD cameras, 2 cameras with infrared rays, a holographic projector, a holographic processing unit and a transparent lens. With HoloLens we could furnish our home and an engineer might observe the parts of a motor that is actually far away. And without feeling sick.

The Microsoft House: what a paradise!

After Andrea’s speech we had the chance to have a walk through all the five floors. In the first one, we found the Microsoft Center, whereas all the “private offices” are from the second floor. What’s interesting is that each floor follows a specific theme: so the second one is dedicated to sports, the third one to cities, the fourth one to nature. The last floor is called “The Loft”, an amazing place that looks more like a house, with its kitchen and living room. It was a sunny day and the light was coming in from multiple directions: that is because almost the entire building is made from glass. The walls delimitating each room are just symbolic since glass is the key component of the inside structure and everyone can choose the best place to work thanks to the free-desk system… what a wonderful world!

“Today the only limit you have is your imagination, you can view a car, or Hubble, or any other idea that comes to your mind.” (Andrea Benedetti)

Is this the so called “Future”?

Written : Veronica Volta

Edited: Giulia Mattioli

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