Opening of the new Microsoft Centre in Brussels and #EUYouth

22. January 2014 07:57 by Renaud in Events  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

Last two days (20th & 21st of January), I've been invited to the Microsoft Centre in Brussels for the opening of the new offices and the signing of a new 3 years agreement between the Brussels government & Microsoft to help prevent youth unemployment in Europe.

Blogger Roundtable & YouthSpark program

It all started with an invitation from the YouthSpark program. They proposed me to join them as a young blogger to discuss the youth unemployment issues people are facing in Europe. I met some talentuous bloggers from all over Europe: Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, ... They all have different passions and different situations, but all of them are interested in technologies & social media, and their impact on youth, education, and employment. I was very impressed by their impressive career.

On monday, we had a inspiring guided tour of the new Microsoft Center with Mark Lange, Director for EU Insitutional Relations at Microsoft. And I have to say, the new Microsoft Centre is really an exciting place. Actually, it reminds me what can be seen in Seattle, on the Microsoft campus. Lots of devices (phones, tablets, hybrids) everywhere that you can use, huge touch screens on every wall, a few xbox one, skype rooms here and there, Surfaces everywhere ! There's also much more place than in the previous building. The conference rooms are great, with a lot of space. 

 

After that, we had a roundtable with Lori Harnick, Microsoft's General Manager for Citizenship and Public Affairs. The aim was to introduce the global YouthSpark program, the program's achievements for last year and the new targets for this year. We met some non-profit patrners collaborating with Microsoft on this program, helping young people to find paid internship and get the necessary ICT skills they need to find a job.

Technology showcase

At the same time, I've been asked by the Microsoft Innovation Center to make a technology demonstration during the event on Tuesday 21. I decided to show how it was possible to use the Kinect for Windows to control Nao (a small humanoid robot made by an awsome french company called Aldebaran Robotics). it's interesting because even if we can see more and more usages of the Kinect on the web, most people still think it's only useful for gaming. I actually believe that kind of technologies could save lives. We could send robots in situations that are too dangerous for humans and control them remotely with all the precision of the Kinect. 

And because it's cool, I decided to use the new Kinect for Windows v2 sensor (technical preview) aside of the old Kinect sensor. Both can totally work together on the same machine, with the same application. 

I had the chance to show this cool demo to Brad Smith, Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel. I hope he enjoyed it :-)

The demo is based on the code found in this blog post, written by two student during their internship at the Microsoft Innovation Center: http://blog.mic-belgique.be/articles/controler-un-robot-humanoide-nao-avec-une-kinect/ 

Here is a great video made by those students:

 

If you want to learn more about Kinect programming, you can read this series of blog posts I've written :

 1. Introducing the Kinect for Windows API
 2. Use the ColorImageStream
 3. Track the users with the SkeletonStream
 4. Kinect in depth!
 5. Speech recognition

Launch of the Microsoft Center

On Tuesday 21st, we assisted to a few conferences and debates with Brad Smith, Céline Fremault (Minister of Economy and Employment in Brussels-Capital Region), Andrew W. Wyckoff (Director of OECD), and some Members of the European Parliament. I've been very impressed by the talk of Brad Smith about YouthSpark and how Microsoft is helping young people to create and capture opportunities. That guy really knows how to talk and keep your attention !

 

During the conf, Brad Smith had a live skype session with Students from Europe. We saw a teacher from Portugal, in his classroom with 6 years old kids. He explained how they were trying to develop ICT interest with those kids by using Kodu (a Microsoft Research project). This application helps kids understand the basics of programming (with a visual language) and trains their logic skills. Those 6-years old kids, grouped by two, each group with a laptop, had to develop a game using Kodu. That was fun to see them doing some sort of pair programming.

Evening Reception

By the end of the day, there was a party, with Xbox games and DJ sets. Time to have a drink and talk about less serious stuff with nice people.

Anyway, that was a great event. It's good to know that Microsoft is working that much on solving youth unemployment issues. By developping ICT skills or entrepreunarial mindset. There is a lot of work to do in the EU. But I met a lot of amazing and enthusiastic young people from all around Europe and I'm pretty confident they will positively contribute in some way in the changes that we need.

 

 

 

Additionally, here is a great coverage of the event made by euronews.comStart-ups shake up tech world.

 

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About the author

I'm a developer, blog writer, and author, mainly focused on Microsoft technologies (but not only Smile). I'm Microsoft MVP Client Development since July 2013.

Microsoft Certified Professional

I'm currently working as an IT Evangelist with an awesome team at the Microsoft Innovation Center Belgique, where I spend time and energy helping people to develop their projects. I also give training to enthusiastic developers and organize afterworks with the help of the Belgian community.

MIC Belgique

Take a look at my first book (french only): Développez en HTML 5 pour Windows 8

Développez en HTML5 pour Windows 8

Membre de l'association Fier d'être développeur

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