MWC 2019: Satya Nadella presents intelligent edge vision

Microsoft has unveiled a version of the Xbox Kinect device for business called the Azure Kinect, which sees and hears its environment

In his keynote speech at Mobile World Congress 2019, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella presented his vision of a connected world, where devices have in-built intelligence.

“Computing is embedded in our world in every place and in everything,” he said. “There’s computing in every industry – oil and gas, retail, agriculture, financial services. And there’s computing in everything from connected cars to connected refrigerators, smart surgical tools, and even smart coffee machines.”

Nadella said Microsoft’s goal is to provide technology to enable people, organisations, small businesses and startups with a world-changing vision to have meaningful impact.

Nadella believes there are three changes in technology driving the intelligent edge. “Computing is no longer confined to a device or even a single datacentre,” he said. “Instead it’s ubiquitous fabric, it’s distributed from the cloud to the edge, closer to where data is generated, and with the ability to adapt to the wide range of inputs, whether it’s touch, speech, vision or gestures.”

For Nadella, the second driving force is artificial intelligence (AI). “We’ve seen tremendous progress in the recent years achieving human parity in object recognition, speech recognition, machine reading and comprehension, and translation,” he said.

“These are not just breakthroughs that are theoretical. Instead, AI is being infused into every experience mediating our interactions and distilling the knowledge from everything around us.”

According to Nadella, the third change in technology is the concept of putting people at the centre of a technological world, instead of the device. “For years we’ve built applications and experiences specifically for given devices,” he said.

“But the interaction model going forward is with computers and computing all around us, it’s no longer about being device-first, it’s about putting the human first and it includes all the devices in their lives.”

Nadella added that people need to understand of  the unintended consequences of technological advances. “That’s why we’ve committed to earning our customer’s trust and instilling trust in technology across everything that we do,” he said.

“That’s why we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. That’s why we prioritise cyber security, not just for the largest of companies, but for small businesses and consumers, who are often the most vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“And that’s why we build AI responsibly, taking a principled approach and asking the difficult questions like not what computers can do, but what computers should do. Our collective opportunity has never been greater.”

The company used MWC to introduce Azure Kinect, a $399 intelligent IoT edge device, derived from the XBox Kinect games controller. The Azure Kinect has a depth sensor, high-definition camera and a spatial microphone array.

Microsoft corporate vice-president, Julia White, said: “Azure Kinect is an intelligent edge device that doesn’t just see and hear – it understands the people, the environment, the objects, the actions. And the level of accuracy you can achieve is unprecedented.”

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