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Microsoft Build 2016: Helping the blind to see, and other goals

San Francisco, California: Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella on Wednesday opened the annual developer conference of the company - Microsoft Developers Build 2016 - by talking about the growing role of the technology in our lives.

After two hours of presentations and coding demonstrations, Microsoft unveiled a research project showing how the new technology developed by the company can help the blind to see.

In the video, Saqib Shaikh, a Microsoft software engineer who lost his sight at age 7, can be seen walking on the street wearing a product he helped develop.

After Saqib encountered an obstacle, he taps his glasses and a machine voice and then make use of image-recognition technology to know that the obstruction is actually a skateboarder doing a trick. The glasses then also read a lunch menu aloud and also identify the emotions of Saqib's colleagues across a meeting-room table.

Saqib was also invited on the stage by Nadella and he drew the loudest applause of the day from an audience of thousands of developers who create and build software. By releasing this video, the tech giant has sent a clear message that it was focused on putting its technology to work solving more challenging problems.

The first day of the conference was relatively light on product announcements and was more focused on Microsoft's vision for technology that better understands the need of people. "Human language is the new user interface," Nadella said. "We want to take the power of human language - and apply it more pervasively to the computing interface," he added.

It is to be noted that Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant launched in 2014, remains limited to a basic set of features like opening an email or setting a reminder. Amazon.com's Alexa, Google's Now, and Facebook's M are designed to perform similar functions.