NAB 2017: How AI is remaking Hollywood

Greetings from Las Vegas, where the National Association of Broadcasters is having its annual conference. At NAB, 1,700 exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees take over the Las Vegas Convention Center, representing a dozen industries including TV, movies, radio — and now, virtual reality.

And everybody here agrees. This is a big year for media.

Media/entertainment and cloud technologies are coming together. This changes the economics of the business, the ways people make and distribute content and how they relate to their audience. As the NAB put it introducing this year’s show, “It’s redesigning the very nature of how we live, work and play.”

Large-scale computing systems, next gen software and ubiquitous networks simplify and enable the recording, editing and transmission of content to billions of personal devices. Companies now broadcast more content than ever, in a direct relationship with each audience member. The quality of this relationship relies heavily on the seamlessness and personalization of the experience. The cost benefits and ease of use of the cloud-based model is driving change in all aspects of the business.


As president of the customer team at Google Cloud, this is a familiar and exciting story. In media, our customers are seeing cost and time to market reductions of 90 percent or better, with substantial performance improvements, by taking advantage of Google Cloud. Spotify, has seen up to 35x improvement in analytic performance, allowing them to greatly improve their personalization experience. For example, on-premises, their algorithms to identify top tracks took five hours; on BigQuery in Google Cloud it takes eight minutes.

Lead VFX studio on Disney's The Jungle Book, MPC artists built a complex photo-real world

Scripps Networks Interactive saw its livestream TV Everywhere video plays grow by 844 percent in 2016. 


They use the cloud to not only run their multiscreen video experiences on mobile and connected devices, but also deliver personalized ads targeted to each and every user.

What excites me most is not simply that our customers have new ways to create, personalize or monetize their content, or that they have a new level of agility in their business, with storage and network charges below what they’re paying just for the real estate where they keep their own servers.

These are both important, but most exciting is the way their digital assets are, like all data-rich businesses, coming into the age of artificial intelligence, particularly through machine learning.


In the case of media, machine learning allows customers to greatly scale activities that have historically been time-consuming and hard — for example, high quality translation and captioning to make content accessible to more audiences everywhere. It also enables completely new experiences — for example, companies can automatically create and deliver highlight reels of multi-hour sports matches for consumption on mobile devices, and build recommendation systems to ensure that their vast unmonetized long tail of content gets discovered by eager fans.    

This isn’t science fiction or a long-term research project. It’s here now. Those examples are just a few of the ways our customers already use machine learning.

We look forward to doing much, much more, and hope you’ll join us on the journey.

Source: Google

With Hidden Figures, Google Play and Made with Code team up to encourage teen girls to code

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Google Play is teaming up with Google’s Made with Code to encourage more teen girls to study computer science. Starting today, you can watch Hidden Figures on Google Play Movies & TV in the U.S. and Canada—two weeks ahead of the Blu-Ray and DVD release. After you watch Hidden Figures, encourage a teen girl in your life to visit Made with Code to code a message of empowerment, honoring the female mathematicians of the movie. Google’s Made with Code, launched in June 2014, inspires millions of teen girls to try coding and to see it as a means to pursue their dreams.

Google Play - Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures tells the true story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, the brilliant African-American female mathematicians working at NASA who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history: calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

This story of empowerment and perseverance is more relevant than ever, since girls are half as likely than boys to indicate interest in computer science. Hidden Figures carries an endearing and inspiring message that will hopefully encourage more girls to study computer science and STEM-related careers.

Earlier this year, Made With Code brought the magic of the film to local communities by hosting screening and coding parties for teen girls and passionate policy makers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts and New York. Hundreds of Googlers host more than 60 coding and viewing parties in their local communities—reaching over 2,500 girls—throughout February and March.

To keep up the momentum, we’ll provide members of the National Foundation for Women Legislators with free access to the digital version of the movie when they host a Hidden Figures viewing and coding party in their local communities.  

Google Play and Made with Code are committed to fostering a passion for science and technology in the next generation. As they say in Hidden Figures, “You have to see what she becomes.”

Source: Google

Creating a professional growth culture: 3 lessons from school districts

Whether it’s a 3D printer, a language app, or a Chromebook on a student’s desk, technology represents potential. The results can be profound, but learning how to make the most of new tools often requires dedication outside of the standard school day.

We spoke with teachers and administrators at Cicero Public School District 99 in Illinois and Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools in Ohio about how they designed technology professional development programs to engage teachers for the long term. Here we share three lessons learned from their experiences building programs that impact educators and students alike.

Lesson 1: Incentives help overcome inertia

When the Cicero Public School District 99 board set the goal of giving every child access to a Chromebook, professional development for teachers became a top priority. CIO Cao Mac believed any tech rollout was bound to fail unless teachers got the right training. So his team came up with a plan to motivate teachers to get Google Certified—they’d offer them early access to new classroom devices.

The district now has 104 Google Certified Educators, and has seen a shift in how teachers use devices in the classroom. Before the training, students used laptops and tablets for activities like math games and music videos. Two months after the Chromebook rollout, the top five sites accessed across the district included Google Classroom, Google Docs and Khan Academy. “Right off the bat, they were no longer using their machines randomly,” Mac says. “Their use was more focused.”


Lesson 2: Time is a precious resource

Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District is the first public school district to train all of its teachers to become Google Certified Educators. Administrators say they achieved 100 percent participation by customizing the program around teachers’ schedules.

“We made it easy for teachers get certified whenever it was most convenient,” says Nancy Kevern, a technology integration and instructional coach at Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools. “Grouping teachers by grade level helped us emphasize the lessons they would find most useful.”

The district also started a committee that works on solutions for fitting professional development into teachers’ busy schedules. They’ve proposed incorporating trainings into the school day—for instance, by delaying student start times.

Lesson 3: Community makes a movement

Cicero Public School District 99 took a grassroots approach to training its teachers. A group of technology resource teachers actively recruited teachers to get certified, leveraging their relationships to build a team of early adopters. This group influenced the rest of the district.

“We knew if these ambassadors were on board, their friends would be, too,” Mac says. “Adoption needs to happen teacher by teacher, grade by grade.”

This momentum has led Cicero Public School District 99 to extend its 1:1 Chromebook program to grades K-8. None of this would have been possible without support from teachers and the entire district.

This isn’t my initiative,” Mac says. “This is the village of Cicero’s initiative. This is ours.

Cao Mac

CIO at Cicero Public School District 99

Professional development is about more than introducing new tools. By helping educators develop the skills and confidence to grow professionally, school districts are investing in their students and building cultures that embrace technology. “It doesn’t matter how many devices you have,” Mac says. “If you don’t know how to integrate technology with teaching, it becomes just another add on.”

Visit the Training Center to learn more about the Google for Education certification programs. And if you’re a district interested in help from a Certified Professional Development Partner, learn more here.

Source: Google

Make App Promotions Work: Acquire & Re-engage the Right Set of Users

Click! Click! Click! and you are done. Yes, acquiring new users and re-engaging with existing users of your app is as simple as that in the tried and tested ‘promote your app’ feature in the Windows Dev Center. If you are not familiar with these capabilities, learn more about them here.

This blog is about making promotions work for you so that the ad campaigns that you create can acquire the right set of users at the lowest cost.


Do choose auto-targeting unless you are 100% sure of your game/app audience profile.

  • Choosing manual targeting without knowing the right audience profile may end up giving bad ROI for the campaign.
  • For e.g. most card/casino based games work well with age group 50+ while racing games work with 18+ male.
  • Let our machine learning algorithms do the work for you.

Do use a good descriptive tagline in the ad creative.

  • Most users often forget to the fill the custom tagline or write a tagline that is very generic.
  • Creatives with taglines have higher click through rates compared to those that don’t.
  • Highlighting the differentiating/unique features of the app also increases the click through rates.

Do leverage the power of free campaigns.

  • Create house campaigns that run all the time without fail if you have multiple ad monetized apps.
  • Opt-in to community program to earn credits for displaying other developers’ app install ads. You can use those credits to run free app promotions.
  • Create community campaigns to get featured in apps owned by other developers who have opted in to the program for spending your credits.


Don’t choose extremely low budgets.

  • We have seen a few developers create monthly campaigns with budgets as low as $50.
  • Campaigns with monthly budgets lower than $100 would not make a sufficient dent in the bottom-line of the business, given they help in acquiring anywhere between 70 to 100 new users.
  • For running a sustainable business, calculate the required average number of monthly active users, and then choose a budget that would help acquire a percentage of those users.

Don’t target a generic segment in re-engagement campaigns.

  • Re-engagement campaigns help you target specific segments of users with a precise objective.
  • Creating a generic segment will lead to a bad ROI with no objective met at the end of the campaign period.
  • For example, if you target all the users who have used the app in the last week, the campaign will not have any results unless there is a new feature in the app and the highlight is captured in the ad creative.

Don’t forget to monitor the campaigns regularly.

  • Ad campaign ROI can change based on the marketplace dynamics.
  • Machine learning algorithms help optimize for the best ROI in the backend, but campaign delivery might take a hit due to extremely low budget or manual targeting of a niche segment of users who are not available in the apps with ads.
  • Tweak the campaigns in the initial few days/weeks to end up with the best combination of creatives/budget/target audience to get the best ROI.

Stay tuned for additional tips to increase ad monetization over the next few weeks.

Source: Windows

This National Small Business Week, build your online skills with lessons from the pros

The web is helping small businesses grow. As the place where people turn to learn, discover, find, and buy things, it’s connecting customers to small businesses and small businesses to customers. Being online can have a big impact–in fact, businesses that are online grow 40 percent faster and are twice as likely to create new jobs than those that remain offline.

We see the power of the web working for American small businesses. Millions of small businesses are found on Google Search and Maps every single day across the nation.

With a little bit of elbow grease and the help of technology, we believe every business can grow online. So together with our partners, we’re continuing our mission to help make that happen. Through our Get Your Business Online initiative, we’re bringing together free resources and tools to help you this National Small Business Week and beyond.

Learn from the pros through bite-sized lessons

Build your online business and marketing skills with five-minute lessons from Primer, our free mobile app. To celebrate National Small Business Week, we’re happy to announce new lessons created by small business experts Anita Campbell, John Jantsch, Ramon Ray, and Rhonda Abrams. Each has created a special lesson from their decades of experience working with and coaching small businesses. We’re also excited to share new web-based lessons.

Get your business online

Be where your customers are. Get your free listing on Google Search and Maps.  Show pictures of your business, list your hours, and add your phone number so customers can just click to call you or get directions. Businesses with complete listings are considered twice as reputable. Use this handy tool to get started.

Make sure your website works on mobile

Did you know that more than half of all Google searches happen on mobile phones? Mobile shoppers want quick results–53 percent say they’ll wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a site. How fast does your website load? Use the free Test My Site tool to see how well your site works on mobile. We’ll email you a personalized assessment with specific recommendations on how to make it better.

Want even more?

During National Small Business Week (and throughout the year), Google and our partners are hosting in-person workshops to help you grow your business online. Find a workshop near you.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities. Thank you for making the places we call home, home.

Happy National Small Business Week.

Source: Google

Kayas College chooses Surface to transform distance learning

On his first day as Director of Kayas Cultural College, Kyle Trumpour walked in met his entire student body, of 13 students. Eight hours north of Edmonton, Kayas College, is a First Nation college located in the remote area of Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta. A difficult socioeconomic climate, combined with a large geographic expanse and harsh weather, had made it challenging for people living there to access education. Furthermore, the dated method of communicating and teaching between the college’s three campuses was extremely difficult and inefficient for the students and the teachers. Each of them lacked the face-to-face interactions that are fundamental to a teacher/student relationship.

Eight hours north of Edmonton, Kayas College, is a First Nation college located in the remote area of Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta.

Trumpour knew if the school was to thrive, and if lives were going to be changed, that he had to change the curriculum, and the tools used to reach the student body, from the ground up.

Soon after he arrived at Kayas, Trumpour and his staff began using Microsoft products starting with Surface devices and later incorporating Office 365 into their teaching, which radically changed their educational experience. Removing communication and technological barriers has led to increased student engagement, success and boosted enrollment. In this Winter semester, there were over 50 students enrolled at Kayas.


We sat down with Kyle to ask five questions about the drastic changes that have taken place at Kayas and how Microsoft’s products helped play an important role in the school’s transformation:

How long has Kayas been using Microsoft Surface and Office 365?

We have been on the Surface Pro bandwagon since the day one. We bought one Surface Pro 1 and one Surface Pro 2. At the time, we were beginning to roll out Office 365 and Skype for Business and we purchased units as a pilot project to determine how well they would work for marking student work electronically. Since then we have upgraded all our instructors and management staff to Surface Pro 4s.

What does Surface do for your staff that other devices can’t do?

What drew me to the initial Surface devices was that they could still serve a function similar to tablets, while running full 64-bit operating system. I hated the fact that I was limited with what software I had access to on an iPad or other basic tablets.

I wanted to move the school away from paper, faxing, and printing. At the time, the Surface devices carved out a unique competitive advantage over other devices, in that they came with a pen. At the time, we moved students from scanning to emailing all of their work, but we still needed to print the work off for marking. With the Surface, we envisioned never having to do that again.

Obviously, competitors for the Surface Pro devices have come out; however, nothing matches them entirely. Our Surface devices are versatile, functional, pack a punch and are extremely portable. They also work perfectly with Surface Hub.

We noticed how Surface devices are not only great tools but an amazing perk for our staff. When you think about how remote we are and the types of technologies our staff are being exposed to and getting to play with and use in very customized ways – it’s a great staff retention mechanism.

What benefits have you seen from Office 365?

The most significant is the ability to deploy all of this through a revamped and truly amazing Office 365 environment.

Office 365 has dramatically evolved in the 3-4 years since we initially adopted it, and it is now a complete solution for an education institution. SharePoint Online has evolved as well, with more of a focus on the online offering as opposed to the on premise deployment. We are moving towards a blended integration of a student intranet using SharePoint Online and Office 365.

Have I mentioned a complete lack of needing a full-time IT department to manage all of this for us? My goodness, that’s huge. My background is Biochem and business…I basically set up and administer Office 365. I did all the PowerShell scripting for the Surface Hubs. No on premise servers required. We plan to fully integrate our new laptop carts with Intune and Azure HD, to cloud-manage our domain devices. We have single sign-on for O365 accounts; no more personal Microsoft accounts.

What has your experience teaching with Surface Hub been like?

We had been using a SMART-brand smartboard connected to a Surface Pro and it served its purpose. However, we saw what the Surface Hub could do and we recognized how well they would integrate into our Office 365 environment. The key was their camera system. Being able to stand basically 180 degrees from the screen and still have the cameras pick you up was an obvious advantage to the Surface Hub that had dramatic distance learning classroom applications.

Because of our unique distance-learning situation – I need to teach students physically in front of me while two other (remote campus) locations are seeing me on a screen. When the cameras can continue to track the instructor perfectly as they write on the board, the students learning remotely really do feel like they are in the same room with the instructor. It is what allows the Surface Hub to create what I describe as “a seamless virtual classroom,” as opposed to basic distance learning where an instructor sits in front of a laptop.

You get the feel of the classroom, as the instructor moves around, goes back to the “board” and interacts with students both physically there and virtually there.

We love being able to “book” the Surface Hub or invite them to meetings using Office 365 and Skype for Business. We often have internet issues, which, in the past, required someone to re-invite one or all call participants. You can imagine how that affects our classroom setting. Now, if a call drops, a student can just walk up to the Hub and easily rejoin the call by pressing the big, obvious button on the screen. It was much more difficult before with our projector and laptop/Surface Pro set up. It is all a complete and holistic solution that has transformed Kayas and the experience of our students and teachers.

Is there a plan to share your success with other First Nation (FN) schools and communities?

I truly believe that our method is the model for adult continuing education in remote and First Nation communities, and I have the numbers to back that up.

The dropout rate over the past 30 years for FN K-12 students is staggering. Everyone loves to focus on improving K-12 funding and systems, and that’s great, but what about the former students that are now adults? They’ve been forgotten and have literally no effective ways of improving their situation. If you were to look at many of the teaching assistants at the K-12 schools, the payroll staff, or admin staff at LRRCN, the majority of them are former Kayas students.

I need to get the provincial government to see and recognize what we are doing, as well and the federal government, so that we can export our model to other communities. I would love to, one day, to be a part of something that takes this model and help to set it up in FN communities across northern Canada, and get industry and all levels of government on board.

Removing communication and technological barriers has led to increased student engagement, success and boosted enrollment.

At Surface, we are inspired every day to work with educators like Kyle and students like those at Kayas to enable them to achieve more on their life’s journeys. We have seen tremendous growth for Surface in classrooms of all ages and all sizes, helping to deliver real impact to classroom outcomes.

A recent IDC study shows student’s science scores were 25 to 36 percent higher when using pen and digital inking to draw out diagrams before solving a problem. In the same study, two-thirds of teachers said digital inking with Surface saves them time when preparing materials and grading homework.

Check out our case study on Kayas Cultural College to read more about its amazing digital transformation, and be sure to watch our education-focused live stream on May 2 at 9:30 a.m. EST to see what else Microsoft has in store for students and educators.

Source: Windows

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