I am trying to catch up on some posts I meant to write the other week, but I didn’t get time to complete them. The week before I went to Web Summit in Lisbon I attended another conference in London called Future Decoded. Future Decoded is a free event that is run by Microsoft and it takes place over 2 days. The 1st day is the Business Day, and the 2nd day is aimed at more of a technical audience. The theme for the Business day was Digital Transformation, and this was about businesses, mainly large and well established enterprises, using Microsoft technologies to transform their business to being more digital.

There were many interesting keynote talks about companies that had made the shift and there were also some interesting sessions about security which had someone from the security services talking about cyber security and also the Chancellor of the exchequer, Phil Hammond, announcing the UK’s new Cyber security strategy.  This was quite interesting, and as you can imagine there was a fair amount of press interest at this session as it was an official government announcement.

Microsoft Future Decoded
Microsoft Future Decoded

In the afternoon I attended several talks, in particularly about Blockchain so I could understand a little more about the technology.  It certainly looks interesting as it is the underlying distributed ledger database behind the bitcoin currency, but it, in my mind, has limited uses. A lot of companies say they want blockchain until they learn about the distributed nature and openness of the data, and then realise what they actually want is just a database. Again it is an interesting set of tools, and like all tools they have their uses, but they are not a one stop solution.

Microsoft Future Decoded - Phil Hammond Announcing the UK Cyber Security Strategy
Microsoft Future Decoded – Phil Hammond Announcing the UK Cyber Security Strategy

The 2nd day of Future Decoded was the more technical track aimed at developers. Being a developer myself, this day was much more interesting. There was a lot of keynote sessions and breakout talks about Mixed Reality and HoloLens, AI and chat bots as-well a talk from the developer experience lead at Uber and people from Microsoft Research.

The highlight of the technical day was a demo from Microsoft Research (also a joint venture with MIT) about using high speed video footage to recover environmental sound from silent video by analysing micro-vibrations. This was dubbed, the Visual Mic. This was absolutely fascinating and completely mind blowing at the same time. You can see a video that shows the same demo below.

As well as plenty of talks to visit, there was also an exhibition floor with lots of companies peddling their wares. A lot of this was very enterprise focused not really that interesting to me personally, although there were some nice demo’s happening on the Microsoft stand of the Surface Book and Surface Hub. Unfortunately they didn’t have any of the new Surface Studio machines there to look at. I would have quite liked to have a play on one of them, but I guess they are a little too new.

Microsoft Future Decoded
Microsoft Future Decoded

Overall it was fun 2 days away. Last year I just went to the technical day. This year I thought I would try both days. Whilst I enjoyed the business day, I didn’t really get anything from it, so next year I will probably just limit myself to the technical day. It was a very well run event, as per usual for a Microsoft conference, and I highly recommend anyone visiting, especially as it is a free event, so all it costs you is travel and a hotel if you don’t live in or near London.

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