October, 2012

  

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Can't attend BUILD in person? Watch it live!

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    Stay tuned, because Microsoft's BUILD conference is rapidly approaching, and Windows Phone will be there. BUILD sold out in record time this year, and if you weren't one of the lucky few who got a spot, don't worry, because the entire event will be streamed live. We're looking forward to going in depth with you on what's new in Windows Phone 8 for developers. Watch Channel 9 for session content 24-48 hours post-event.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    YoYo Games Gamemaker full support for Windows 8

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    We are thrilled to announce the availability of YoYo Games support for building Windows Store games

    YoYo Games was founded in 2007 by a group of leading Games and Entertainment industry executives. The company, headed by CEO, Sandy Duncan (ex-Vice President of Xbox Europe), was created to support the founders' belief that a new generation of games development talent and devices was emerging and there was an opportunity to incubate and showcase some of the very best of this talent on these new and existing platforms.

    GameMaker is available today under a variety of licensing tiers, including a free tier, from the YoYo Games website (www.yoyogames.com) and has been downloaded more than 5 million times since 2007. In addition, GameMaker is the teaching product of choice for more than 5,000 schools and Universities worldwide. In September 2011, YoYo Games introduced GameMaker:HTML5, unleashing the games development talent of hundreds of thousands of gamers on the web. YoYo Games estimates that over 130,000 games have been developed using the YoYo Games platform.

    YoYo Games announcement - http://www.yoyogames.com

    YoYo Games Windows 8 Opportunity - http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker/studio/multiformat/windows8

    YoYo Games Windows 8 Contest - http://www.yoyogames.com/competitions/windows-8

    Download - http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker/studio

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    ATARI and IE new CreateJS Libraries

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    Are you teaching gaming or web development?

    Modern ‘Atari Arcade’ Experience Features Fresh Graphics, Social Connectivity and Tablet Touch Gameplay, Play Now for Free at Atari.com

    Atari, one of the world’s most recognized publishers and developers of interactive entertainment, has developed a partnership with Internet Explorer to launch the Atari Arcade. The browser-based portal is a next-generation collection of Atari’s classic games reimagined in HTML5 with fresh graphics, gameplay and integration with Facebook and Twitter.

    Atari Arcade shines in Internet Explorer, but also works well in other modern browsers. Because of the quality of the IE experience, an ad-free version is made available to all Internet Explorer customers when they play Atari Arcade.

    In celebration of Atari’s 40 year anniversary and the upcoming launch of Internet Explorer 10, classic games like Asteroids, Pong, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Centipede, and others have been developed with new graphics and gameplay features. Like the arcades that first popularized gaming, players can go head-to-head with friends in competitive, real-time battles for high scores and leaderboard placement in the next evolution of Atari fan favourites like Super Breakout and Combat.

    Atari Arcade demonstrates what’s possible when you couple HTML5 along with a fast and fluid browser that is perfect for touch, which is precisely what you get with Internet Explorer 10. Now together with Internet Explorer and HTML5, we get to see some of our favourite games jump into the next generation of gaming on the web – which is pretty fantastic.”

    Atari’s new platform will grant developers access to CreateJS, a suite of tools for creating cross-browser, cross-device HTML5 gaming and media experiences. This new offering will give developers a platform to publish and monetize games with the ability to utilize features like Facebook integration.

    Atari has released a promotional video for the event in which game industry luminaries Nolan Bushnell and Grant Skinner provide their perspective on 40 years of video games and HTML5’s impact on future development. The video may be viewed at: http://youtu.be/3qaF9-W2Dvg.

    Visit the Atari Arcade now at Arcade.Atari.com.

    For more information about Atari games and the latest news:
    - Visit our website: www.atari.com
    - Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/atari
    - Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/atari
    - Subscribe to our YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/atari

    For more on Internet Explorer, please visit http://www.beautyoftheweb.com/

    For developers http://atari.com/arcade/developers/

    Check out the JavaScript libraries. Atari also produced an SDK to supplement the CreateJS libraries. Visit www.atari.com/arcade. Make sure to visit the Developers tab for links to the developer resources and enjoy this behind the scenes video.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Want to create a HTML5 game for Windows 8? And publish it to the new Windows Store?

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    HTML5 Game Starter Kit for Windows 8

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    This is a great starter kit developed by one of my colleague Petri Tapio Wilhelmsen who is a member of the Microsoft Western Europe team.

    As you can see from my previous posts were aware many of the apps that are submitted to the Windows Store are failing certification because they didn’t know that a Privacy Policy was needed, or that the game/app had to implement a snap view and so on. This kit will help you with the most important things.

    Petri has created an excellent HTML5 Game starter kit that will help you set up a new Windows 8 game project in short time, this is ideal for schools, colleges and University who teach game development with HTML5.

    By using this starter kit you can get most of this functionality ready, for more details see http://digitalerr0r.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/html5-game-starter-kit-for-windows-8/ or look at the following quick guides below.

    Here is a quick video to using the HTML5 Starter kit

    5 Step Guide to Bulding HTML5 games with the HTML5 Starter Kit

    Step 1a. You need to have Visual Studio 2012 installed on a Windows 8 device to use this. If you are a student and have access to Dreamspark.com (MSDNAA) or a MSDN Subscription you can download both products from there.

    You can use the free version of Visual Studio 2012 (express) and can be downloaded here:
    http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads

    The Release Preview can be downloaded for free here:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/release-preview

    Step 1b. Download HTML5 Game Starter Kit for Windows 8

    Step 2. Start Visual Studio 2012 and create a “Blank App” Windows 8 JavaScript project:

    Click on File->New->Project…

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    Choose JavaScript as the language and the template “Blank App”:
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    Give your project a name (here: Mitt Spill) and press OK.

    A new project is generated and the structure will look like this:
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    Step 3. What we will do now is to add the HTML5 Game Starter Kit files to the newly created project. We just copy the content of the HTML5 Game Starter Kit folder to the project folder.

    So, copy thse files from the HTML5 Game Starter Kit:
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    Navigate to your new game soludtion and open the project folder. Paste the files here, and replace if asked:

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    The project folder will look somewhat like this:
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    Step 4. Go back to your Visual Studio 2012 project and update if needed:

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    Step 5. Include the new files in your project.
    The last thing you need to do is to include the new files in your project structure from Visual Studio 2012.

    Click on the button highlighted in the red circle below. It will show the files that exist in the filestructure but not in the project structure(dark gray).

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    Select the following files (hold control and click them):
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    Right click one of the files and select “Include in project”:
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    6. Test if it works.
    Congratulations, you are now having a working game project! Run the app and test that it works.

    Whats in the starter kit?

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    Tiles

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    Full screen mode

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    Snap view mode

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    Full screen with other app in snap view.

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    About page

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    Privacy Policy

    Remember!   The example game is using CreateJS. It’s located under js/CreateJS. You can remove this folder if it’s not needed in your project. But if you do so, the example game will not compile.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Six Steps to Windows Azure - Registration open for 8th and 9th November

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    Six Steps to Windows Azure – Starts on 8th and 9th November:

    Six Steps to Windows Azure programme which offers a series of free technical events and online sessions on the Windows Azure Platform. The programme aims to guide developers and IT professionals currently building apps or considering the cloud on how to take full advantage of Windows Azure.

    Our upcoming events will cover both the technical and commercial aspects of adopting Windows Azure.

    We will be launching a brand new web site with the full list of details and registration. Register now for the following events.

    Windows Azure in the Real World - 8th November 2012

    Get started with Windows Azure by seeing how companies have implemented real world solutions for different types of Azure workload. Join us if you currently building applications, considering moving to the Cloud and want to understand how to take full advantage of the Windows Azure Platform.

    Register

    Advanced Topics in Windows Azure - 9th November 2012:

    Join us to tour the latest features of Windows Azure from Media and Mobile services to Windows Azure Active Directory. The day will explore the opportunities Windows Azure offers with Windows 8 and the latest Phone Toolkits (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).

    Register

    What’s next? Here are the upcoming themes. Registration will open shortly.

    Windows Azure - Architecture and Design (13 November)

    Integration with Mobile and the New World of Apps (4 December)

    Open Source Development (15 January)

    HPC (4 February)

    Big Data (24 February)

    For more details of Azure in education including FREE Curricula see http://www.windowsazure.com/education

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    2013 Faculty Fellowship Program

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    Microsoft Research Redmond is seeking applications from EMEA for the 2013 Faculty Fellowship Program (targeted at early career faculty members nominated by their institution).

    Each year since 2005, Microsoft Research has recognized innovative, promising new faculty members from a number of research institutions to join the ranks of Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows. This program now encompasses more than 50 academic researchers whose exceptional talent for research and innovation in computer science identifies them as emerging leaders in their fields. The selected professors are exploring breakthrough, high-impact research that has the potential to help solve some of today’s most challenging societal problems.

     

    2013 Faculty Fellowship Awards

    In April 2013, the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship grant recipients will be selected from applicants from four regions: Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; the United States and Canada; and Australia and New Zealand.

    Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowships Help New Professors Succeed

    The road to tenure can be a bumpy one for early career professors in any field. Most find their first few years filled with a seemingly endless process of writing grant proposals. For the professors who are selected as Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows each year, this “overhead” is considerably lessened, allowing them to concentrate on the business of pursuing their research with minimal distractions. Microsoft Research selects a handful of top early-career professors in the field of computer science and provides them each with a cash award.

    About the Program

    Microsoft Research seeks nominees who are advancing computing research in novel directions with the potential for high impact on the state of the art, and who demonstrate the likelihood of becoming thought leaders in the field.

    The future of computing in academe rests with its newest faculty. In these early-career professionals lie the seeds of tomorrow’s great innovations. However, while recognized faculty with well-established reputations are able to attract the financial support necessary for substantial research programs, new faculty often struggle to secure adequate support to allow them to realize their full potential.
    Because new faculty are so vital to the future of academic computer science, the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship Program identifies, recognizes, and supports exceptional new faculty members who are engaged in innovative computing research. The objective of this program is to stimulate and support creative research undertaken by promising researchers who have the potential to make a profound impact on the field of computing in their research disciplines.

    Microsoft Research will select fellows this year from nominees from four regions: Latin America and the Caribbean; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; the United States and Canada; and Australia and New Zealand.

    About the Awards

    Each fellowship includes a cash award. The Microsoft Research Faculty Fellows also have access to other Microsoft resources, such as software, invitations to conferences, and engagements with Microsoft Research. Microsoft awards Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship grants each year; awardees are selected by April.

    The Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship Awards program provides recipients considerable freedom in planning the focus of their academic research. The funds can be applied to a wide variety of uses to pursue novel research. Examples of possible research areas include, but are not limited to: interdisciplinary research, scientific computing, bioinformatics, computational biology, software engineering, and other areas where computing transforms the discipline and advances the state of the art.

     

    This is a great opportunity and we hope for many strong applications from across EMEA.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Kinect for life

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    Kinect for life

    This week we had an event showcasing  medical technology innovation in partnership with Kingston University, the University of Surrey, Brunel University and Microsoft.

    Given the revolutionary advances made possible with Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows, Medical professionals and researchers are exploring how computer vision and natural user interfaces can enhance healthcare.

    Confirmed sessions:

    • Fall detection system, Dr Dimitrios Makris, Kingston University
    • Facial expression recognition from 3D data, Dr Hongying Meng, Brunel University
    • Controlling a smart home, Dr Francisco Florez Revuelta, Kingston University
    • Concept to Commercialisation – A strategy for business innovation 2011- 2015– Graham Worsley, Lead Technologist in the Assisted Living Innovation Platform, Technology Strategy Board
    • Kinect for Medical and Non-gaming applications: developments at the University of Surrey - Dr Kevin Wells, University of Surrey

    Confirmed speakers:

    • Graham Worsley, Technology Strategy Board
    • Prof Malcolm Sperrin, Royal Berkshire Hospital
    • Dr Dimitrios Makris, Kingston University
    • Dave Brown, Microsoft
    • Prof Paolo Remagnino, Kingston University
    • Dr Kevin Wells, University of Surrey
    • Dr Hongying Meng, Brunel University
    • Dr Francisco Florez Revuelta, Kingston University
    • Tim Craig, Smart Care UK

    Kinect use examples

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    One of those areas is robotics. The Kinect sensor uses an infrared laser projector and a infrared camera to determine the distance between the Kinect and several hundred of points, thus creating a 3d map of it’s environment.  

    In Games it’s used to create a representation of your skeleton and in Robotics this is used for example to create a 3d map of a room so that a robot can navigate through it without colliding with objects. All of these features are accessible through the Kinect SDK that lets you access the post processed data (for example skeleton positions) or tap into the raw data if you need to. This is a task that just a few years ago would require months of work, at a PhD level.

    Robbosavvy have clever Skeletal functions in the SDK to create a small demo using a Kinect sensor and a small humanoid robot called Robobuilder to demonstrate the capacities of both.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AcFeX3REDk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOg_yyX3Hok

    In this sample, we read Kinect’s skeletal data and make a Humanoid Robot mimic the Human’s position.

    The flowchart is quite simple:

    Step 1- Read the positions of each person’s joint (in our case Shoulder, Elbow and Wrist ) from Kinect

    Step 2- With some trigonometry calculate the angles of the body, to determine for example if the arms are raised or not.

    Step 3- That information is then sent to the servos (the motors that move the robot), to position them so that the Robot mimics the movements of that person. (The legs are not tracked otherwise the robot would fall off the table.)

    In addition, to keep track of the person when they move side to side (L/R), we created a cool gadget that makes Kinect track you wherever you go.

    The magic behind it is simple: you look at the person’s head and rotate Kinect so that the Head is always at the center of the Field of View.

    This is a preview into a technology that will be used in the future for example to perform remote surgery or to send robots to work in dangerous areas.

    More information on our Kinect + Robot project can be found here:http://robosavvy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8026

    Microsoft Robotics Studio

    There is currently no standard regarding the control of Robots.  

    Most small robots, use a low power microcontroller similar to Arduino. This is something like a computer, but much less powerful, however suitable to communicate with sensors, control motors, recharge batteries, etc.

    There is a huge variety of these microcontrollers, and even when the more usual types are used, the robot manufacturers usually create their own software to operate the robots.

    This causes situations where for example when a program is designed for a given robot, it needs to be completely rewritten if another brand of robot is to be used, even if they are nearly identical at an hardware level.

    This where Microsoft Robotics Studio steps in and closes that gap. Robot manufacturers, or the users themselves can design small software modules for each robot, that act as a translator between MRDS and the control system for the robots.

    This means that in MSRDS a command, for example to make a humanoid robot step forward, is identical across several brands of robots.

    With MSRDS, Robots can now talk to each other, talk to sensors from different manufacturers or be supervised by our own master process (hypervisor) that makes sure everything is working as expected.   MSRDS also enables interoperability with complex functionalities hosted on the PC such as Speech Recognition.

    Another advantage of MRDS is that it is a tool accessible to wide range of users, regardless of their expertise. Beginners can build Robot behaviours using Visual Programming Language and Advanced users can work with textual programming (any .Net language) to make the most out of MSRDS.

    As an example, with one of our most sold robots called Robobuilder, we are able to control it using Voice commands, by using Windows built in Voice Recognition. This is achieved by simply dragging a few boxes in MSRDS Visual Programming Tool. Once all boxes are connected our Robot becomes capable of understanding what we tell him to do.

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