Category Archives: News

May 2019 Meeting – Smart Cities for All and the Future of Transportation

Register for the May 9th meeting.

Join us at the MTC Chicago on the 2nd Floor of the Aon Center on Th., 5/9 for our members meeting as we continue our local dive into the Liquid Science techumentary series with a conversation on Smart Cities focused on The Future of Transportation! We’re not yet discussing Jetsons-like hover cars, but automated vehicles are on the horizon. Our panel will cover some exciting initiatives like Chicago’s newly-initiated Transportation and Mobility Task Force and Smart Cities for All’s global initiative to draw urban planners, city leaders, incubators and start-up communities into helping drive Smart Cities that include the disability lens in research, strategy and implementation of this evolution.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to the city life, urban centers are increasingly the engine that drives modern life. As more people gravitate to our cities and technology becomes ever more central to addressing challenges like crowding and housing, opportunity, culture, education, and transportation we all need to have an awareness of what the city of the future will look like…and we’re giving away a hovercraft! Not really, but join us anyway.

Joining us!

George Letavish is a Program Manager at City Tech Collaborative. In this role, George leads City Tech’s efforts to define solutions and execute pilot projects to reinvent cities. He works with pilot teams made up of experts from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, along with startups and universities, to implement technologies to benefit city residents across the world.

May 9, 2019
5-7:00 p.m.

Aon Tower
Microsoft Technology Center
200 E Randolph Street, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 60601


“Microsoft’s hackathon isn’t just about fixing the world’s problems”


Hi, everyone. A principle research designer who works at Microsoft, has her teams to create a three-day hackathon. Rosemary and her team are working at long tables covered with electronics, computers and snacks in one of the two 45,885-square foot tents set up for the meetups. The group is working tools to help people with poor eyesight play video games. Other teams are hacking together tools to help homeless shelters, cities and counties plan and respond to surging needs. Hackathons are now so popular they’ve become standard procedure inside the tech industry and outside of it too.

Facebook has hackathons, as does Google. NASA has a hackathon. C NET hosts are every year as well. Microsoft holds the largest private annual hackathon in the world during One Week, an annual gathering created to get everyone on the same page and inform their thinking in the year ahead. The hackathon is just one part of the week: there’s a science fair, and question-and-answer sessions with Microsoft’s leadership. It isn’t just an opportunity to faster collaboration between teams, members from the company’s engineering, finance, operations, and consumer divisions. The list of successful projects include Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller, a $99 device launching this year that helps disabled gamers play on the Xbox game console and Windows PCs.

There’s tech involved to help dyslexics read more easily, which has since been integrated into much of Microsoft’s software. “When we talk about our mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, it can’t be just a set of words”, Satya Nadella. Another hackathon team created tech that let’s people control a wheelchair with their gaze. It’s been turned into an entire set of features on Microsoft’s Windows software powering hundreds of millions of PCs, including allowing you to log on your computer merely by looking at it.


Tech for Good:

Back inside the tent, one team is building technology to help people use their Xbox video game console to guide them through different types of therapy, such as recovering from sports injuries. For parents who might have to take their kids back and forth for visits, they don’t actually do a lot to exercises at home, and so they’re not the betterment of themselves,” said Megan Molley was normally work on Microsoft’s operations team but helping to lead this project.

“Advancing the future of AI: M12 and VC partners award $3.5 million to Innovate.AI winners”


Hi, everyone. M12, Microsoft’s venture fund set out a mission to uncover the most innovate startups harassing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform businesses and solve real-world challenges. Together with Madonna Venture Group, Norton and Vertex Ventures, we put a combined $3.5 millions in investment funding on the line to kick off Innovate.AI, a global startup competition would drive progress in AI and further Microsoft’s commitment to making AI accessible for all. Not only did Microsoft receive hundreds of submissions, the companies were all innovate, impactful and inspiring. Microsoft has worked to advance transformative power of AI, believing in its ability to accelerate human ingenuity and solve some of society’s most pressing challenges.

The hundreds of startups applied to Innovate.AI make it clear that the next generation of innovators is realizing this vision in ways anyone never could have imagined. In healthcare, startups are utilizing AI to create personal and mental health assistants and conducting drug research and diagnosis. In retail, computer vision is used to automatically recognize and tag items in images and video, enhance advertising and optimize shopping experiences. In financial services, machine learning is fueling research summarizes and insights that investment professionals can use to invest smarter and faster. In human resources, AI is helping to understand people’s strengths, skills and networks and property match them with jobs and schools. The number of use cases across industries is endless.


AI at the forefront of science and medicine:

More than 30 million people in the U.S. are living with cancer and or genetic disease. By integrating ribonucleic acid (RNA) splicing analytics and AI, Envisagenics aims to unlock previously inaccessible cures for hundreds of diseases caused by splicing errors. Envisagenics is a biotechnology company that applied AI to the genetic sequence of patients to discover new therapists. The company focuses on RNA splicing, a cellular process occurring in every call edits RNA to produce functional proteins required for our body to work.


Where the citizen’s voice is heard:

One of the most important measures of a city’s performances is through the feedback of its citizens. To solve this challenges, ZenCity has built an innovate application uses AI to analyze data from hundreds of thousands of public interactions, city hotlines and other communication channels to surface sentiment trends in real-time. The application provides an accurate citizen pulse on how they are viewing the city. City officials can interpret this data to drive more informed decisions that improve the lines of its people.


Anonymizing data with artificial intelligence:

With data privacy concerns on the rise, more and more companies are looking for partners can help them achieve the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance by anonymizing their data. Hazy is working to make a reality. Using any arbitrary structured data source, Hazy leverages deep learning algorithms with topological data analysis and knowledge representation technologies to accurately identify and classify personal and sensitive information.


Making speech recognition accessible to everyone:

Voiceitt’s mission is to make voice recognition technology available to everyone. Through a hybrid of unique statistical modeling and machine learning technologies in Microsoft Azure, Voiceitt will enable tens of millions of people to overcome communication barriers and helps them connect with the world. The company’s core mobile application is a hands-free voice recognition app enables face-to-face, real-time communicaton with everyone. In addition, the technology is designed for integration into smart homes, assistive and augmentative communications devices, and smart speakers.

“Microsoft AI and laughter converge at the National Comedy Center”


Hi, everyone. The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York are using Microsoft AI to challenge each guest to see who can make the other crack a smile. Microsoft (AI) artificial intelligence technology from Azure Cognitive Services is the behind-the-scenes judge of whether a player’s joke gets a laugh. The fact that AI is being used in an exhibit at the nation’s finest museum dedicated to the culture of comedy. Mitra Azizirad, the corporate vice president for AI marketing at Microsoft said the Laugh Battle is an example of how AI is making an impact far beyond the technology industry.

Comedy leans into tech:

The Laugh Battle is one of more than 50 interactive exhibits at the National Comedy Center, which uses technology throughout to showcase the story, history, art and personalities of comedy. A computer program uses the answers to build a sense of humor profile is stored on a RFID chip that visitors wear on a bracelet a laugh band throughout their stay for a personalized experience. For example: an exhibit called the Comedy Continuum features a wall-to-wall touchscreen with a never-ending spider web of connections between artists, media and mediums that allows visitors to explore influences, histories and trajectories of the personalities, films and shows that match their sense of humor profile.

Enter the Laugh Battle:

The AI service includes a deep neural network trained on a data-set of more than 100,000 labeled photos to recognized a range of universal facial expressions that are linked to eight emotions including happiness and sadness as well as anger, contempt, disgust fear, neutral and surprise. “Across cultures, people smile the same way, they get angry the same way, they slow disgust the same way”, Cornelia Carapcea, a principal program manager on the Cognitive Services team. Another deep neural network in the Face API tracks facial landmarks such as the corners of the lips, which shift in-tell-take ways during laughter.

Off the Shelf Intelligence:

Gunderson and her staff at the National Comedy Center dreamed up the Laugh Battle in the early planning stages for the non-profit museum as way to give visitors are engaging and unique experience. The use of the Microsoft AI to power the experience clicked as a natural fit. “Microsoft are bringing AI into culture, into society, in a way that makes it fun for everybody”.

“M12 and VC partners commit $4 million to empower women entrepreneurs””M12 and VC partners commit $4 million to empower women entrepreneurs”urs/


Hi, everyone. Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, M12 joins forces with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group to launch the Female Founders Competition, a global startup contest to identify top female talent and accelerate access to capital for women entrepreneurs. Last year, female founders received just 2.2 percent of total global venture capital funding, and only 17 percent of all startups have at least are female founder, despite the fact that gender diversity on executive teams correlates  with  greater profitability and value creation. Last year, Microsoft launched their first      global startup competition, casting a wide net to uncover high-potential investments in  artificial intelligence. Applicants will compete for the opportunity to participate in a live pitch off this fall where they will present their ideas as a solution is solution is solving a critical business problem.

At Microsoft, diversity and inclusion are central to the culture they’re building. To achieve their mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, they need to be a truer reflection of the planet we serve. The future of    the tech industry, and its more important authors won’t be these of us in the Fortune 500. Today is just one of many steps we’ll take to ensure the VC dollars reach the ideas and founders with incredible investment potential that too often get left behind. Submissions are new open through Sept 30, 2018 on the M12 website. Female founded-teams building for the enterprise are encouraged to apply diversity M12.

“From ‘Minecraft’ to mixed reality, Microsoft is preparing students for the future”


Hi, everyone. I was on LinkedIn and just hear that Microsoft is going to be preparing students for the future by using “Microsoft: Education Edition”. The research looked at the skills today’s kindergartners will need how teachers can best prepare them through their educational journey and the role that technology will play. The research highlighted several times, including a new focus on social skills and emotional competencies and an ongoing read for personalized learning. It identifies the shifts required to move from current educational models to student-centric approaches. The research also reinforced a continued focus on cognitive skills and identified variances between teachers and students priorities around technology the importance of creativity and feedback on social and emotional skills.


Supporting student achievement: 

Microsoft has a long-held commitment to empower every student to create the world of tomorrow and provide classroom tools that live up to the same high standards teachers set for their students. Accessibility features like dictation and text decoding features are helping students of all abilities improve reading, writing and comprehension. New approaches to learning, from mixed-reality applications to hands-on lesson plans, are providing students with rich, immersive experiences to spark their curiosity and creativity. The workshop’s Hacking STEM initiative provides low-cost, interactive STEM lesson plans for school students. The lessons enable students to solve real-world problems and be creative priorities identified in the new research by both students and teachers as critical skills for the future.


Powerful tools for immersive learning: 

Microsoft’s research suggests that mixed reality the combination of augmented and virtual reality helps students learn because it activates multiple areas of the brain while also giving them independence and opportunities to explore the worlds beyond the physical limits of the classroom. Microsoft’s Mixed Reality team has learn working to develop applications teachers can use to give students experiences allows them to interact with information in new ways. Research has shown that 3D technology can also improve learning and retention among students since visualization helps make compare topics more understandable.


Technology that engages the senses:

Technology has been part of the education landscape for decades, but has traditionally been used to automate processes or digitize content. Now, it is increasingly enabling learning in ways that blends the physical and digital universes, reflecting how students today interact with the world. Similarly, digital pens and inking are being used in classroom not just to restore the lost art of penmanship, but help students retain what they’re learning. Microsoft has built digital inking capabilities into various educational devices and apps, and the technology is being used in classrooms by both teachers and students.






“Microsoft and Amazon launch Alexa-Cortana public preview for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs”


Hi, everyone. I was on LinkedIn and just found out that Microsoft and Amazon are bringing Alexa and Cortana to all Echo speakers and Windows 10 users. The public preview bringing the most popular AI assistant on PCs together with the smart speaker with the largest U.S. market. Each of the assistants brings unique features to the table. Cortana, for example, can schedule a meeting with Outlook, create location-based reminders, or draw on LinkedIn to tell you about people in your next meeting. And  Alexa has more than 40,000 voice apps or skills make to tackle a broad range of use cases.

Many of the features common to both assistants like reminders, timers, or adding events to your calendar will be available through both Alexa and Cortana. The multi-assistant approach for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs makes Amazon and Microsoft different from rivals with a single virtual assistant, such as Siri in Apple’s HomePod, Bixby in the recently debuted Galaxy Home speaker, and Google Assistant in Google’s line of Home smart speakers. Microsoft and Amazon gave the world it’s first look at how Alexa on PCs and Cortana on Echo speakers will work in May at the Build developer conference in Seattle. Smart speakers with Cortana support include Echo, Echo Dot, Spot, Echo Plus, and Echo Show, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email. Alexa will also be available on the Harmon Kardon Invoke smart speaker.