On October 7th I looked into the Future. I don't claim to have foresight powers, but Craig Mundy magically painted his vision with such realism that some of the panelists were left dumbfounded at his eloquence. The Chief Research and Strategy Officer of Microsoft presented a world where technology went from being a tool to being a helper. A world where doctors rely on the help of technology for diagnosis, as well as for the distribution thereof. A world where classes are given globally and laptops or slates add to the teaching environment rather than to the social networks. A world where everyone, regardless of their profession, gets to enjoy the help of their own STARK Enterprises J.A.R.V.I.S robot helper.
It is refreshing to see Microsoft focusing on social entrepreneuring fields, which seems to come from it's chairman. Mr. Mundie explained that before concentrating on his philanthropic efforts, Bill Gates guided Microsoft's research group into areas of social development as well as initiating talks with universities and their developments in these fields. It is up to Universities such as McGill to leverage the technology and indulge in health, education and communications research.
Among most of the hidden gems coming out of Microsoft's technologies is Kinect. This tool has seen the light mostly on the gaming sector, but it is slowly creeping its way into more relevant markets such as health. This technology is a stepping stone into the realm of possibilities of what can be done in Health. Entrepreneurs have always thought of simply linking people with video and voice. A doctor teleconferencing with a patient through Skype. Kinect takes the concept of telepresence to a completely different level. With Kinect the experience is enriched with gestures and reactions through movement and depth perception. It is easy to mention examples of monitoring critical patients and scenarios such as launching a 911 call when a patient is moving or shaking strangely and even to check whether they are being active enough, but perhaps the most impressive advantage is that all of that and more can be done for the price of $150.
Thanks to Microsoft's recent release of the Kinect SDK for windows, developers have the ability to produce a new set of services in many domains through more natural ways of interaction. Thus, decreasing the complexity for users and flattening out the usability learning curve.
I believe Kinect is the link between us and that New World Craig Mundie prophesized. Soon we will start seeing the ability to turn on the lights by voice or dimming them with a hand wave at the reach of everyone simply because the technology exists, it is affordable and Microsoft has given it to us on a silver platter!
If you would like to live the experience yourself, there is a transcription of Craig Mundie's panel at McGill University for you to read.
Oscar Guerrero - McGill University MSP