Review Category : Research

Microsoft revealed the Cortana digital assistant platform at BUILD developer conference earlier this month. Behind the scenes, its Microsoft’s Bing platform that powers Cortana. Even though Cortana responds based on your intent and behavior now, MSR expects it to interact in an increasingly anticipatory, natural manner in the future. Microsoft Research detailed some of the technologies involved in building Cortana. Even though many of us would just categorize them under Artificial Intelligence label, Microsoft Research has detailed all of those technologies involved. Speech recognition, Semantic/natural language processing, Dialogue modeling between human and machines, Spoken-language generation, Microsoft Research has used all of the above base technologies for a creating a virtual personal assistant based on the work they have done in different areas of personal-assistant technology. Cortana’s design philosophy is therefore entrenched in state-of-the-art machine-learning and data-mining algorithms. Furthermore both developers and researchers are able to use Microsoft’s broad assets across ...

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Microsoft Research today revealed about their new project called Holograph. Holograph is an interactive, 3-D data-visualization research platform that can render static and dynamic data above or below the plane of the display using a variety of 3-D stereographic techniques. The platform enables rapid exploration, selection, and manipulation of complex, multidimensional data to create and refine natural user-interaction techniques and technologies, with the goal of empowering everyone to understand the growing tide of large, complex data sets. During Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley TechFair, Microsoft Research scientist Curtis Wong demonstrated this project. Watch the video above. Holograph enables users to examine various types of dynamic data sets—easily and naturally. “If you have 3-D data, you could move your head around and look at things as if they were physically there,” Wong suggests. “That’s a natural way of observing something. If you want to reach in and select something that’s interesting, you ...

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The future of computing interface is all about NUI, natural user interface (NUI) is the ability to interact with a computer using speech, gesture and touch, seamlessly and simultaneously. Microsoft’s Redmond campus has a Envisioning Center which showcases Microsoft’s devices and services strategy and what it could unlock in the future. It provides us a glimpse of the future on how our computing may get transformed in the next 5-10 years. Many of those futuristic scenarios are powered by two Microsoft technologies available today: Kinect for Windows and Perceptive Pixel (PPI) displays. The Envisioning Center team was halfway through designing scenarios when Microsoft acquired PPI. A light bulb went off, say Jonathan Cluts and Anton Andrews, who planned everything at the Center from the physical architecture to the code powering its innovative scenarios. “Immediately we put our heads together and started to think about how to put the two devices together because they ...

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Earlier last month, we reported about an interesting Microsoft Research project called SurroundWeb. This project news is now making news around the web again. So, I just want to post the same information again for those who have missed it last time. SurroundWeb is a 3D web browser that will allow web pages the ability to display content across multiple surfaces in a room. For example, if you are watching a car race on your TV, the current driver standings can be shown on the side next to your TV, or an Wikipedia entry of a place which you are looking on the screen and more. Microsoft is trying to project this plan with no.of use cases. Read the abstract below. We introduce SurroundWeb, the first least-privilege platform for immersive room experiences. SurroundWeb is a “3D Browser” that gives web pages the ability to display across multiple surfaces in a room, adapt their appearance ...

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It appears Microsoft has pulled down these videos. We have embedded a copy found on YouTube: Live tiles are a key part of the Start screen and the modern experience of Windows. They provide up-to-date content and notifications. Live tiles embody the Microsoft design principle of being fast and fluid. Users can see updates and real-time information from their apps all from their Start Screen, enabling them to quickly review new information and engage with apps even before they open the apps. A tile is an app’s representation on the Start screen and it can be either static or live. A static tile displays the default content, which is generally a full-tile logo image. A live tile, however, can present new and valuable content that invites the user to re-engage with your app. You can implement either a simple badge or live tile notifications to draw in your users. Even ...

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Few days back, WSJ reported about Harry Shum, head of technology and research at Microsoft speaking at Think Next 2014 conference in Tel Aviv. Harry Shum said “We are now moving from the personal computer to personal computing.” Microsoft Research now has machine learning and artificial intelligence on top of its list and working on how a person interacts with a computer. Also, Microsoft is now investing heavily on invisible user interface technology in which the intelligent devices will know what you want before you tell them. Microsoft is investing heavily in “invisible user interface” technology, said Yoram Yaakobi, who heads up Microsoft’s research and development center in Israel. Yaakobi said people in the future won’t need to touch, type or speak to their devices — the devices will “know” what we want them to do before we ask. He called it “UI.Next.” “User interface started with the command prompt, ...

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While we are all waiting to try Cortana digital assistant on Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft Research is working on virtual assistants that can handle your work in real life dealing with other people and more. Microsoft Research’s long term goal of the Situated Interaction project is to enable a new generation of interactive systems that embed interaction and computation deeply into the natural flow of everyday tasks, activities and collaborations. Example scenarios include human-robot interaction, e-home, interactive billboards, systems that monitor, assist and coordinate teams of experts through complex tasks and procedures, etc. Such an assistant could coordinate with the assistants of other people, helping to schedule social engagements, work commitments, and travel. It could anticipate your needs based on past activities—such as where you have enjoyed dining—and coordinate with businesses that offer special deals. It could help you select a movie based on which ones your friends liked. “Intelligent, ...

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Microsoft Research has announced a special Climate Data award program, which offers scientists and decision-makers 12 months of free Windows Azure cloud-computing resources.This program was launched as en effort to support White House’s Climate Action Plan to help predict and address the impacts of climate change. Microsoft will be awarding this grants to 40 awardees selected from proposals submitted by June 15, 2014. Each award provides up to 180,000 hours of cloud-computing time and 20 terabytes of cloud storage. Apart from this, Microsoft will also be helping the Climate Action Plan by providing FetchClimate and other Microsoft Business Intelligence tools to researchers around the world. To further promote resilience to the impacts of climate change, Microsoft commits to make FetchClimate available for adoption. FetchClimate is available to all researchers—not just the award recipients—as a fast, free, intelligent environmental information-retrieval service that provides past and present observational data and climate prediction ...

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Microsoft Research is always known for exploring new possibilities. Here is an another interesting thing they did at this year’s TED conference. They are using Oculus Rift virtual reality viewer for exploring large imagery in World Wide Telescope. Worldwide Telescope is for Sky like how Bing Maps is for our own Earth. You can explore the Sky using Worldwide Telescope, for example you can locate tiny craters in Mercury, etc. At this year’s TED conference, currently taking place in Vancouver, B.C., the results of Eyewire are on display in spectacular fashion via a virtual reality tour that uses Oculus Rift. It is the result of a months-long collaboration between Eyewire and Microsoft Research’s Worldwide Telescope (WWT), and it allows users to experience 3D models like never before. The below video demonstrates what TED attendees are seeing this week, albeit in 2D form. How was this collaboration born? Initially, Robinson wanted to display ...

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Microsoft Research’s Future Social Experiences Labs (FUSE Labs) today announced their latest project called HereHere. This project focuses on driving hyperlocal, real-world engagement to encourage civic discourse. HereHere’s goals are to study how characterization can be a tool for data engagement. At the same time, researchers want to understand what sort of light, daily rituals are effective for connecting people to hyperlocal issues, as well as how to create compelling stories with data that can engage larger communities. “HereHere NYC introduces daily neighborhood engagement with a light touch,” London says. “It takes neighborhood-specific public data, and it enables the neighborhoods to communicate how they’re doing—expressed through text and cartoonlike icons. People can receive the information via a daily email digest, neighborhood-specific Twitter feeds, or status updates on an online map. We want to understand how it changes or impacts the way people relate to their community when they can interact with data in ...

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Microsoft Research today released a new tool called ZooTracer, it is a desktop tool that can be used to trace animal movement by using consumer video equipment. ZooTracer is a collaboration work between  Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences (CEES) group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, and the Computer Vision group, also from Microsoft Research Cambridge. There are some existing animal tracking software, but the ZooTracer offers distinct benefits such as easy usability, it can take video from anywhere(consumer videos from mobile devices too) and the user can quickly modify the results—helping the software learn how to track any object. Why should we track animals using this tool? “For example, bee populations are in drastic decline. What plants do they pollinate—and why? That is a question pretty relevant to the production of food for human consumption, but actually watching bees fly around and trying to track their plant preferences and the flight paths they take is a ...

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Last year, Microsoft revealed the third generation Photosynth technology. This preview version of Photosynth is dramatic step forward in smoothness and simplicity and it supports four basic experiences: spin, panorama, walk, and wall. Today, Photosynth team has released another update to its Technology Preview.  Also you no longer need to sign up to the Tech Preview separately from the Photosynth website. New Features: New ways to explore synths: To help you discover other users’ synths, we now provide you with different views. From all recent synths to all-time favorites to your own my feed – you’ll quickly get addicted to browsing new synths. Synth comments: You can now not only like synths in the Tech Preview but comment on them.  Let other synth creators know how awesome their synths are. My feed and following users: You can follow another user’s account.  Once you follow a user, their synths will appear ...

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David Rothschild, an economist from Microsoft Research New York City predicted the winners of the Oscars in 2013 using various data available on the web. He was accurate with his prediction in 19 of the 24 Academy Awards categories. For Oscars 2014, he posted his predictions for 24 categories weeks back. The Oscars 2014 event just got over and what about his accuracy of prediction this year? He correctly predicted 21 out of 24 categories which is a great improvement over last year. The three categories which he got wrong were Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary Feature and Best Live Action Short Film. I guess the lack of enough data is one of the reason behind the above three errors. David commented the following on the results, There are two ways to judge accuracy. First, and most obvious, you want a small error. Correctly predicting 21 out of 24 ...

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Microsoft Research often comes up with interesting and sometimes mind-blowing projects. A recently published Microsoft Research project called SurroundWeb is an interesting one. SurroundWeb is a 3D web browser that will allow web pages the ability to display content across multiple surfaces in a room. For example, if you are watching a car race on your TV, the current driver standings can be shown on the side next to your TV, or an Wikipedia entry of a place which you are looking on the screen and more. Microsoft is trying to project this plan with no.of use cases. Read the abstract below. We introduce SurroundWeb, the first least-privilege platform for immersive room experiences. SurroundWeb is a “3D Browser” that gives web pages the ability to display across multiple surfaces in a room, adapt their appearance to objects present in that room, and interact using natural user input. SurroundWeb enables least privilege ...

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Longtime Microsoft Research executive Kevin Schofield has announced that he is moving away from MSR to some other new role at Microsoft.  Kevin Schofield is currently General Manager and Chief Operations Officer for Microsoft Research, he joined Microsoft in 1988, and has worked in Microsoft Research since 1997. His organization drives consensus on technical strategy and priorities for Microsoft’s research efforts, and coordinates business affairs and operations for the division. He is also responsible for developing Microsoft Research’s relationships with customers, press, analysts, and Microsoft’s own product groups. Geekwire reported about his change in job this morning as Kevin updated his Facebook profile as follows, “I love MSR and the direction it’s going in, and part of me is sad to be leaving, but I’d also been there a long, long time and it’s probably good for me to exercise some different muscles. … I’m good, MSR is good, we’re all good, ...

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Microsoft today announced the general availability of Power BI for Office 365. Power BI for Office 365 is a self-service business intelligence solution designed for everyone. Power BI empowers all kinds of business users to find relevant information, pull data from Windows Azure and other sources, and prepare compelling business intelligence models for analysis, visualization, and collaboration. With this release, we are delivering completely new experiences to customers. For example, Power Query in Excel allows you to easily search and access data within your organization or from publically available sources. In addition once you upload your Excel workbooks to Power BI, you can ask questions of your data using natural language search and instantly receive answers in the form of interactive charts or graphs. Power BI will be added to the list of features that Google Apps and other productivity suite customers will never experience in the near future. Office ...

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