MVP Spotlight – Ask Dr. Neil: An in depth Q&A about mixed reality, Bing Maps, touchscreen tech, and more

Dr. Neil RoodynDr. Neil Roodyn, also known as Dr. Neil, has many titles – founder, consultant, trainer, Microsoft Regional Director, MVP and more. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise when it comes to all things related to tech. As founder and director of tech company, nsquared, Dr. Neil has developed solutions that use shared screen technology to enrich interactions and Bing Maps has played a role in many of those projects.

Below is Q&A with Dr. Neil about mixed reality, Bing Maps, being a Microsoft Regional Director, MVP and everything in between.

I saw that you are a Microsoft Regional Director. What do you do in your role as Microsoft Regional Director?

I am Regional Director, and it is important to state that as a Regional Director I am not employed by Microsoft. The Regional Director program enables Microsoft leaders to gain insights and hear real world voices. This feedback provides the Microsoft leadership team with the information it needs to continue empowering developers and IT people with the most impactful and innovative tools, services and solutions. The Regional Director program consists of (approximately) 160 of the world’s top technology visionaries, chosen for both cross-platform expertise, community leadership, and business capabilities. I am grateful to be part of that program that helps Microsoft better understand what is happening in the world of technology. Personally, I spend time supporting start-ups, reviewing new technologies, and innovating new ways to apply technology to benefit humanity.

How did you become a Microsoft MVP, and what made you decide to become one?

I initially was awarded as an MVP because of the work I was doing to help developers learn .NET, build Smartphone software, and develop for the Tablet PC. That was in the early 2000’s. Since then I have helped engage developers with Virtual Earth (now Bing Maps), Microsoft Translator (now Speech Services), Surface Table, Kinect for Windows, HoloLens, UWP, Surface Hub, and many other technologies.

I never decided to become an MVP, I do things that I think will help make the world of software better, if Microsoft decides that is worthy of me being awarded as an MVP, I am grateful to receive the award.

From reading about all the cool projects you have worked on over the years, it sounds like you are always ahead of the curve. For example, working on smartphone tech back in 1999, tablet devices in 2002, and digital tables in 2008. What are you working on now?

As always, I have many projects I am working on. The interesting ones happen at the intersection of the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, and cloud services. One of the projects we recently announced is the Intelligent Meeting Room, http://intelligentmeetingroom.com This combines many of the technologies I have worked on in the last couple of decades to create a space where everything is recorded, transcribed and captured. It is becoming clear that the complete digitization of human transactions is underway. This will lead to far more transparency in the world. Eventually I think we will see this transparency lead to a reduction in need for security. The concept of privacy, as we currently see it, is reasonably modern, and, if we get the technology right, we can reframe the concept of privacy to complete openness.

We spoke to you back in 2014 about nsquared and how you are using Bing Maps in a mapping solution (i.e., nsquared maps) that you built for Windows to run on the Perceptive Pixel touchscreens. Have you released a new version of nsquared maps? Are you using maps in any other solutions?

The latest versions of nsquared maps have been developed for the nsquared DIGITABLE product. You can find out more here https://nsquaredsolutions.com/business/maps/. With massive multi-touch and multi-user support, nsquared maps enables multiple people to work on the same map, or different maps, on the same screen at the same time. It is several iterations of improvement on the product we demonstrated in 2014.

We have used digital maps in several other bespoke solutions for customers, both in client-side applications and web sites.

Also, it looks like you are doing Mixed Reality (MR) projects with nsquared now. Can you provide some details about what you are working on with mixed reality?

In 2018 I helped to teach developers how to integrate Azure services into their Mixed Reality applications. This lead to twelve workshops with customers around the world helping them to build cloud enabled MR applications. Each workshop was 4 or 5 days with a customer building a proof of concept for an application they desired. The end result of this was 14 of the level 300 hands on labs in the Mixed Reality academy.

I think Mixed Reality has incredible applications in education, I am surprised we are not seeing more adoption of the immersive (cheaper) headsets in high schools and universities. It is an area where more development is needed in order to unleash the potential in this space.

We just recently launched a Microsoft Garage Project, the Maps SDK for Unity developers that enables mixed reality map experiences. What do you think the future holds for mixed reality and maps?

I love the Maps SDK for Unity. If you have played with it you realize how powerful immersive Mixed Reality can be when combined with mapping technologies. Once you learn the simple controls, it is easy to navigate through a city or over a terrain in a way that provides a much richer experience than you get from a ‘flat screen’ map experience. It is of course a very single user experience right now. There is an opportunity to create a multi-user Mixed Reality mapping experience. This would be a good project for a developer looking for something interesting to do with the Bing Maps SDK. Even better, combine the multi-user maps with an educational experience in Mixed Reality.

Are you using Bing Maps in any of your current projects? If so, what are you using Bing Maps for?

I continue to support the nsquared maps project. I have also been involved in a couple of proof of concept projects recently using Bing Maps combined with some online machine learning algorithms. Hopefully I will be able to highlight these projects soon.

Why did you choose Bing Maps for that solution?

A couple of reasons for choosing the Bing Maps service. The API set makes it simpler to use, and my experience helps here. The other reason was the licensing model. Depending on the customer needs, you should make sure you can get the deal you want for the product to make sense. With Bing Maps, the commercial team has been helpful to navigate the contract and make sure the customer is getting the license that makes the most sense.

What benefits are you seeing?

It has been fast to prototype ideas and get visual concepts in front of customers and investors. This helps to get buy in for the project. For larger organizations that already have a commercial agreement with Microsoft, the licensing is usually very straight forward.

For more information about nsquared, go to http://nsquaredsolutions.com/. For more about the Bing Maps for Enterprise solutions, go to https://www.microsoft.com/maps.

– Bing Maps Team

Source: Bing Blog Feed

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