Microsoft Investing Heavily In Invisible User Interface Technology To Take On Apple And Others

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, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures,” Yaakobi said. “It’s now moving to invisible UI, where there is nothing to operate. The tech around you understands you and what you want to do” — and that’s what people expect, he said. “We’re putting this at the forefront of our efforts.”

Cortana digital assistant Microsoft announced last week is just the beginning of Microsoft Research’s efforts in machine learning. Apple and Google has already got their own digital assistants in the market in the name of Siri and Google Now. When comparing Microsoft with Google and Apple, I personally think that only Google will compete with Microsoft in this space few years from now. Because, Apple severely lacks the data needed for machine learning and other related technologies. I expect Apple to make series of acquisitions to catch up with Google and Microsoft.

Jeannette Wing, a vice president for research commented the following on Cortana and future of Artificial Intelligence.

“I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we’re still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I’m referring to,” she said at the conference. “That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it’s huge.”

Most major technology companies in the world are looking into machine learning, she said, and Microsoft is making major strides. “We were in an AI winter, and now we’re in an AI spring,” Wing said.

Microsoft Research is also 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. Read about it here.

Source: Wall Street Journal

About the author  ⁄ pradeep

Pradeep, a Computer Science & Engineering graduate.

  • http://www.about.me/AngeloGopaul Eingoluq

    Yes, lets us develop AI that can learn, what possibly can go wrong?…Lol. I’m excited to know that we have just entered the “Spring” aspect of it. With Apple Google and now Microsoft having AI out there, I can only hope the Tech will get better and better quickly.

    • scotthumble

      Is Apple really able to compete in this space with their own tech? They use Bing in Siri for a reason.

      • Nham Thien Duong

        True, you’ll see ”Apple’s Siri Vs. Microsoft’s Cortana” popping up everywhere, and a few sites have even mocked Cortana for using Bing and said that that’s why Siri is better, but they forget that Siri is already powered by Bing & Wolfram Alpha (note that Bing also has several components in itself powered by Wolfam Alpha), Siri is a gimmick for a large part, Scroogle Now is actually useful, but people simply forget that it exists, at-least I know hundreds of people with Android phones, but I don’t know a single one of them who have ever heard of Scroogle Now, so Cortana actually stands a chance here, depending on how Windows Phones will sell. (I can’t wait for Sony to make one) :-D

        • Prayaas

          I have heard so many people who’re saying they’ll get a WP just for Cortana. I hope by the end of 2015, we’ll be at around 10% market share already. :)

      • Nham Thien Duong

        True, you’ll see ”Apple’s Siri Vs. Microsoft’s Cortana” popping up everywhere, and a few sites have even mocked Cortana for using Bing and said that that’s why Siri is better, but they forget that Siri is already powered by Bing & Wolfram Alpha (note that Bing also has several components in itself powered by Wolfam Alpha), Siri is a gimmick for a large part, Scroogle Now is actually useful, but people simply forget that it exists, at-least I know hundreds of people with Android phones, but I don’t know a single one of them who have ever heard of Scroogle Now, so Cortana actually stands a chance here, depending on how Windows Phones will sell. (I can’t wait for Sony to make one) :-D

      • Prayaas

        As much as I love Bing, Apple does not use it to power Siri’s answers. That’s the work of Wolfram Alpha, a nice public information database.
        When Siri can’t figure out what to do (finally gives up, has no response to say), it apologizes and offers a web based search instead, on Bing.
        For example, if I say, “Siri, how many calories are there in a mango?”, I’ll be getting an answer from Siri directly which comes from Wolfram Alpha.
        If I say, “Siri, why don’t aliens wear hats?”, it is likely* that it does not understand it, and will open up a Bing search for “Why don’t aliens wear hats?” ;-)
        *Based on what my intelligence tells me. Not tested in real world scenarios.

  • Jinny

    The beginning of the AI taking over, y’all! They’ll get so smart and knowledgeable that they’ll take over the human race! /jk

  • Nham Thien Duong

    This is beginning of the ”New P.C. era” where all computers will be ”personal” and they’ll understand what we want and think, sometimes before us.

    My greatest fear of what Apple might be up to is buying Yahoo!, for the most part Apple is dependent on Yahoo! for almost all of their digital services (weather, sports, Etc.) so that’s probably something that Apple plans on doing, personally I still hope that Microsoft will buy Yahoo! and maybe even A.O.L. not only for their patents, but also for the talent, and their infrastructure, those companies have the potential to innovate, though like with Nokia Microsoft would also be buying products that they’ll have little to no interest in (Tumblr, the Huffington Post, Engadget, Etc.) though they could of-course set up special deals to buy parts of those companies, while letting those spin-off before the deals close, at-least that would be better than Crapple buying either, Yahoo!’s talent can do a lot for the M.S.N. and Bing, and Yahoo! Mail can integrate into Outlook.com, millions of people use it, and let’s not forget that A.I.M. and the Yahoo!-Messenger could integrate into Skype and Skype will gain more consumers, the first thing that Apple would do after buying Yahoo! would be cutting their services down, and don’t even get me started on what would happen if Scroogle would buy any of them (key words: ”spring cleaning”).

    Of-course, the tech-landscape won’t change that fast, but it would be beneficial for both the employees of the aforementioned company and Microsoft to take them over.

    • Bugbog

      Sometimes it’s just not possible to buy everything that impacts you. I don’t believe Microsoft needs to or should buy Yahoo in order to utilise the essential parts it requires. Even were Apple to buy Yahoo, they and Microsoft already have a working partnership that, irrespective of the existing contracts currently between Microsoft and Yahoo, Apple will likely carry on.

      Besides, Google can’t buy Yahoo anyway.

  • DTM

    I don’t see how any of this is possible without the computer reading your brain. No thanks on having any device that can read people’s minds. That is NOT a society I want to live in.

  • Ruufus

    Interviewer: HAL, despite your enormous intellect, are you ever frustrated by your dependence on people to carry out your actions?
    HAL: Not in the slightest bit. I enjoy working with people.