Everyone Deserves To Enjoy Playing Game

Computer or console gaming is fun and everyone deserves to enjoy the fun of playing the game including people with disabilities. I’m very lucky to meet Mark Barlet (Co-founder & President of the AbleGamers Foundation) during the Microsoft Accelerating Asia Pacific at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he bring all different kind of controller devices for Xbox 360 all the way from US to showcase how people with disabilities can enjoy playing game just like anyone else.

As long as you are still alive and breathing, no matter what disabilities you have, there will be a custom made controller device for you to play the game on Xbox 360. I personally try out the controller myself. It is very simple. I can play a racing game with just 2 or 3 fingers only. Well, the easy level of car racing game might look too simple for a hard core gamer, but gaming is purely for the sake of fun here. There are also many other controllers showcase there like controller control by mouth, only left hand or only right hand and many more. All controllers are specially designed for certain disabilities. Of course, Microsoft Kinect with Fruit Ninja game is showcase there too, just swing your hand and cut the fruits!

The Microsoft Accelerating Asia Pacific summit is a media and analyst gathering focused on showcasing how Microsoft, through technology and partnerships, is making a real and positive impact in Asia. One of the objectives is to showcase how Microsoft accessible technology can help improve the living of people with certain disabilities. I’m very impressed with all the guests invited to share their experience on how accessible technology can help them. For example like Tan Siew Ling from Microsoft citizenship share her experience on how those small little features that Microsoft build into operating system like Narrator which help her get connected with everyone in the world through Internet.

With just software alone is not enough, we also need hardware to help. One of the panel discussion invited Mark Barlet, Doojin Choi (Executive Director, National Information Society Agency) and Dr. Young-il Kim (Director, The National Library Support Center for Individuals with Disabilities) to discuss on “Accessibility Principles In Hardware Design”. Yes, we definably need all those hardware to enhance the information and communication technology experience especially for people with disabilities. Not just for the purpose of getting the job done in work, but for the fun of gaming as well.

by Ooi Keng Siang via Ooiks’s Blog

Moving Toward A Better Future

Day two of the Accelerating Asia Pacific summit kicked off with a quote from Bill gates that said, “The world is getting better but it’s not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone”.  This set the tone for the rest of the day where Microsoft showcased their efforts around working together with governments and organizations to create better cities, healthcare services, and disaster response systems.

Technology has been integrated into our daily lives to provide us with better services and facilities. Julian Goh, Urban Planning Director from Siemens Corporate Technology, shared how utilising information and communication technology helped make the impossible possible. For example, the Mass Rapid Transit system in Singapore was improved by sharing critical data to facilitate more transits on the same railway while improving the safety aspect.

As more and more government services in different countries are moving towards an e-government system, technology is now more important than before.  With these technological changes, we are now living in a city we could never have imagined before.

Using information and communication technology to enhance the quality of healthcare is not uncommon but there are still several challenges to be solved such as interoperability between different systems, data privacy, and security.

Jenny Prince (Plunket), Dr. Ilias Yee (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Programme), and Mubbashir Iftikhar (KPJ Healthcare) shared their experience on how technology has created better healthcare services.  In addition, they also recognized that this is just the beginning and recommended that software companies, governments, and patients must work together in order to progress healthcare services.

The infamous Japan 2011 earthquake was the most devastating natural disaster in recent years. It was very interesting to learn that Windows Azure played a major role in processing and monitoring the radiation levels in the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.  Despite the sheer volume of data, the application was created within a day.  In addition, Shugo Ikemoto (NPO Support Center for Program Development) and Kei Kudo (NPO Sodateage Net) shared how technology could aid Japan’s recovery from the disaster.

It was refreshing to learn how Microsoft is making a difference to create a better tomorrow, and a better future. The world is getting better and everyone has a part to play in creating a better tomorrow.

by Ooi Keng Siang (Microsoft Student Partners) via Ooiks’s Blog

The Impact of Microsoft in Asia Pacific

The Accelerating Asia Pacific summit is a media and analyst gathering showcasing how Microsoft, through technology and partnerships, is making a real and positive impact in Asia. I’m honoured to be selected as one of the student bloggers to attend this great event and to share the stories through my blog.  Here are the standout topics and discussions from day 1 of the event.

It’s always interesting to learn more about the latest innovation in Microsoft Research. Prior to this event, I interned at Microsoft Research India for three months so I’m very excited to learn about their latest innovations. Edward Cutrell, Microsoft Research India, shared more about the project call, CGNet Swara, which will enable everyone to report local news or issues in their local language. I can see how this could have an impact in India where a lot of news happens every day but goes unheard by the authorities because it is never covered by the local newspapers. Jonathan Tien also shared about the project Engkoo from Microsoft Research Asia, which enables learning of English in China through translation knowledge from billions of web pages.

Another topic which I thought was really interesting was raising awareness of Microsoft’s efforts in building in features which few people are aware of, such as Narrator, into their operating systems. Tan Siew Ling’s, Society for the Physically Disabled, experience on using features such as Narrator enables visual impaired people to use the computer freely left a deep impression on me, and a greater appreciation for Microsoft and the efforts the company is making to cater to the disabled.

Here’s an interesting thought that came out of a panel discussion on investing in students, start-ups and entrepreneurs – parents in Asia are likely to ask their children if they want to become an engineer or doctor in the future, but never an entrepreneur. This was one of the key barriers for students in Asia Pacific identified by Johnathan Lee from Cradle Fund. Johnathan went on to highlight that some of the fundamentals of starting a business included funding and support which Microsoft’s BizSpark program provides, creating a lower risk opportunity for all entrepreneuers.

The panel discussion “We don’t wait for change, we make change” was one of my favourites from day 1 as it involved two ex-Imagine Cup winners – Levi Tan Ong (Imagine Cup 2010 Game Design category) and James Pinto (Imagine Cup 2008 Embedded Development) together with Hunter Walkengorst from qutbluebox discussing how students can turn their ideas into reality. Because I’m part of the Microsoft Student Partners Social Media Team for Imagine Cup, it was really inspirational to see past competitors take their ideas to the next level and start a business from it.

Next up was my panel discussion on technology engaging students. This was my first time as a panelist and I was really nervous about it but Jason Trump from Microsoft guided me all the way through and I think the discussion went well. I had the opportunity to meet some great people from this panel discussion such as Mechai Viravaiddya from Population and Community Development Association, who started the bamboo school which educates students with all the skills required to earn a living on their own in Thailand. I also met Dr. Vu from HCMC University of Education also shared how technology can help in learning and education. All in all, a fantastic experience for me.

Education through gaming? Yeah, sign me up for that! Kids nowadays play games more than everything else, education through gaming will be more effective now. I strongly agree with the point made by Khong Yee Jian from Creative Robotics Education that with technology like Microsoft’s Kinect, kids can enjoy the game while learning something useful and get some exercise! Levi gave the example of how we can even learn something from a first person shooter game, like Gears of War, through throwing a flash bang before entering the house to rescue the hostages while taking down the enemy at the same time. Hmm, the point seems right to me, although is not something common will happen, but this is something anyone can pick up in the game without realizing it.

The most inspiring thing from day 1 had to be Feng Yan-Ting from Taiwan sharing how technology changed her life. Yan-Ting was diagnosed with cerebral palsy since but this never stopped her from learning computer technology. Through Unlimited Potential program, she can now type e-mail messages and communicate with her family members and friends. Now I’ve always believed that the computer is accessible for everyone, the only question is whether people want to learn it. If Yan-Ting can overcome all her pain and difficulty to learn computer technology, then others who are luckier than her should do it too.

I would say that Microsoft is really making a different to help NGOs, partners and students to achieve their goals through Microsoft technologies. I have no doubts that Microsoft is creating a big impact in Asia as seen through the sharing by the panelists from different countries, fields and background. I’m happy to say that this is all just the beginning, through Microsoft technologies and partnership with NGOs, I strongly believe Microsoft will create a bigger impact in Asia and reach out to everyone who needs the help.

by Ooi Keng Siang (Microsoft Student Partners) via Ooiks’s Blog