Last week at Ignite, Microsoft announced a wide variety of news including Office security enhancements, Windows security updates and helpful information relating to the evolution of its product lines. Outside of the conference floor, Microsoft was showing how its technology is helping small businesses scale up and how it uses its ecosystem to drive new business to these smaller partners.
Also happening in Atlanta last week was the Tour Championship; for those not familiar, this is the final golf tournament of the year where players are competing for the FedEx Cup. Microsoft had a booth at the tournament and invited me out to show how they assisted a small business in Seattle to create a unique golfing experience to correct incorrect golf swings .
And when I say incorrect, I mostly mean my swing which had a consistent slice that left me very familiar with the right side of every golf course in Cincinnati.
Golf is an old game, started back in Scotland many years ago and honestly, not much about the sport has changed. Despite what Callaway and others tell you, clubs are still wedges attached to a shaft that you swing at a small ball with the hope that it goes forward. While the concept is easy, perfecting this skill is quite difficult as a slight deviation from a clean swing will send the $4 golf balls that I keep stupidly buying deep into the woods.
Microsoft and Gregg Rogers have built a solution that creates a unique product that is powered by the Rogers’ custom built Windows 10 app(right image), Surface Pros, and Azure to correct golf swings. The short of it is that by using a camera setup, the company can track your swing, club speed, swing angle, my awful posture, and then review your swing using the app on a Surface.
Anyone who plays golf knows that swing-analysis is nothing new but the complete solution Rogers’ has built is unique. What Microsoft was showing is how using Azure to host swing videos and data analysis, the Windows 10 app streams that data to a tablet and using the Surface pen to annotate the swing video, this creates a highly polished experience. And because the data is on Azure, I can now review the video at home and work on my swing in back yard based on the results of the analysis.
That’s really all you need to know about the app experience and while I typically avoid Microsoft’s ‘success stories’, there was something that I noticed about this demonstration that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to Microsoft’s ecosystem.
Azure and the related cloud services are not reserved for only the big companies. In this case, an entrepreneur was able to invest a minimal amount of capital to make an app, sync it up to the cloud and by utilizing a Surface, he was able to create an experience that is unique in the industry. What I find fascinating about this is that the cost of entry, because of cloud services and hardware at consumer-level pricing, is that anyone can spin up a business like this with significantly less capital today than what was possible even a few short years ago.
And for those curious if Rogers’ instruction and app setup actually work, if you notice above I said I ‘had’ a slice…that problem has been corrected and I was able to consistently hit my 9 iron 20 yards further following his swing-correction recommendations.
Microsoft is investing heavily in Azure, this is no surprise, and while the idea of building out a cloud service can seem overwhelming at first, the company has done a good job of making it accessible to developers of all skill levels.