Microsoft today announced that they are shutting down the Microsoft Research lab in Silicon Valley. Located in Mountain View, California, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley was founded in August 2001 and it employed over 75 researchers. The lab’s primary focus was on distributed computing and includes privacy, security, protocols, fault-tolerance, large-scale systems, concurrency, computer architecture, Internet search and services, and related theory. It was headed by Roy Levin, Distinguished Engineer. Microsoft said that this lab was closed as part of the “consolidation of the west coast labs” and Microsoft still has 2,500 employees working for the company in the Silicon Valley area. Also, the cuts today do not mean Microsoft is backing away from its research commitments or necessarily closing any of the research projects that are run out of the Silicon Valley lab. Microsoft is also offering positions for some of these researchers at other Microsoft Research labs. ...

Read More →

Recently, I came across three different patents from Microsoft that hints at possible features in the upcoming wearable device from Microsoft. All three patents are related to fitness management using the wearable. Read the abstract of them below, PERSONAL TRAINING WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MONITORING DEVICE: A physical activity monitoring device receives a workout regimen including a plurality of exercises. For each of the plurality of exercises, the physical activity monitoring device indicates that exercise to a user and measures physical activity attributes of the user. The physical activity monitoring device outputs information regarding the user’s progress towards completion of that exercise based on the physical activity attributes. EXTENDING GAMEPLAY WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MONITORING DEVICE: A physical activity monitoring device receives an indication of one or more physical activities to be performed as an extension of a game being played on a game system and measures physical activity attributes of a ...

Read More →

We all know that Microsoft is working on a cloud based gaming service. Last year, they even demoed it during company meeting with a Lumia 520 Windows Phone device running Halo game from the cloud. Recently, Microsoft Research revealed their project DeLorean, which uses speculation to enable low-latency continuous interaction for cloud gaming. Read about it here. Microsoft always said that latency is the main issue is delivering games via cloud. Today, Neowin reported that Microsoft is currently working on a project that can allow users to play Xbox games through a web browser. Also, it is reportedly a full 60fps game streamed via cloud to the browser. Microsoft is testing this project both with last generation and current generation games and it is expected to be the company’s next killer gaming feature. The question now is when will Microsoft deliver this feature to end users? Even though delivering games via ...

Read More →

Based on the recent reports, Chinese search giant Baidu has hired Microsoft veteran Zhang Yaqin in China. Zhang Yaqin is the Corporate Vice President, and chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group. He is currently leading thousands of engineers and scientists involved in research and development. Zhang has published more than 500 refereed papers in leading international conferences and journals and has been granted over 50 U.S. patents in digital video, Internet, multimedia, wireless and satellite communications. Many of the technologies he and his team developed have become the basis for start-up ventures, commercial products, and international standards. As Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, and Chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group (ARD), Dr. Ya-Qin Zhang is responsible for driving Microsoft’s overall research and development efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, ensuring success for the company in this growing market. Under Zhang’s leadership, ARD has become Microsoft’s largest R&D center outside of ...

Read More →

Earlier this year, Microsoft released a chatbot called Xiaoice (also known as Xiaobing) powered by Bing and their artificial intelligence technologies. This is different from Xiaona, the Chinese version of Cortana. Xiaoice is more like an emotional companion while Xiaona is expected to be an intelligent personal assistant. Microsoft believes that artificial intelligence could be the next boom in the mobile space. Even though Xiaoice is a new tool, it is already a hit among Chinese customers. Microsoft is seeing pretty consistent engagement and it carried on more than 500 million conversations on social networks like Weibo and Touchpal. Currently, Xiaoice’s monthly active users (MAU) is at more than 3 million users. Microsoft is planning to open this up for Xiaomi’s MiTalk chat app and JD.com’s N app in the future. Microsoft is expecting that this growing popularity of Xiaoice and Xiaona will increase consumers’ interest in Microsoft’s other products like Bing and Windows Phone. Microsoft today detailed this ...

Read More →

A new Microsoft Research project was revealed earlier this month which is going to make all the GoPro videos captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling more watchable than ever. You can’t watch the video of someone climbing a mountain from a first person perspective, when you watch it in 10x speed, it will become too shaky. At high speed-up rates, simple frame sub-sampling coupled with existing video stabilization methods does not work, because the erratic camera shake present in first-person videos is amplified by the speed-up. Microsoft’s Hyperlapse project tried to fix this issue. Today, Facebook announced Hyperlapse from Instagram, a new app to capture high-quality time lapse videos even while in motion. Hyperlapse from Instagram features built-in stabilization technology that lets you create moving, handheld time lapses that result in a cinematic look, quality and feel—a feat that has previously only been possible with ...

Read More →

We all know that Microsoft is working on a cloud based gaming service. Last year, they even demoed it during company meeting with a Lumia 520 Windows Phone device running Halo game from the cloud. Recently, Microsoft Research revealed their project DeLorean, which uses speculation to enable low-latency continuous interaction for cloud gaming. Gaming is very popular. Cloud gaming – where remote servers perform game execution and rendering on behalf of thin clients that simply send input and display output frames – promises any device the ability to play any game any time. Unfortunately, the reality is that wide-area network latencies are often prohibitive; cellular, Wi-Fi and even wired residential end host round trip times (RTTs) can exceed 100ms, a threshold above which many gamers tend to deem responsiveness unacceptable. In this paper, we present DeLorean, a speculative execution system for mobile cloud gaming that is able to mask up ...

Read More →

The WorldWide Telescope is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes to enable seamless, guided explorations of the universe. WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft’s high-performance Visual Experience Engine, enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience. The WorldWide Telescope experience scales from a web browser all the way to multi-channel full dome in some of the world’s most advanced planetariums. About 10 months ago, China’s first planetarium driven by the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) was launched at the Shixinlu primary school which enabled students not only to see and study the stars and the universe in an immersive planetarium setting, but it also has allowed them to create their own tours of the heavens and have them displayed on the ...

Read More →

At SIGGRAPH 2014, Microsoft Research demoed several new projects they have been working on. One of them was the controllable high-fidelity 3D facial performance transfer which allowed to transfer your facial expressions to a dog’s face. Read more about it here. Another interesting project is around of non-rigidly deforming physical objects with arbitrary shape in real-time. Watch the video above and the description below to know more. Among Microsoft Research’s contributions to SIGGRAPH 2014, a combined hardware and software solution for markerless reconstruction of non-rigidly deforming physical objects with arbitrary shape in real-time. Our system uses a single self-contained stereo camera unit built from off-the-shelf components and consumer graphics hardware to generate spatio-temporally coherent 3D models at 30 Hz. A new stereo matching algorithm estimates real-time RGB-D data. The system is an order of magnitude faster than state-of-the-art methods, while matching the quality and robustness of many offline algorithms. We demonstrate how acquired models ...

Read More →

At SIGGRAPH 2014, Microsoft Research demoed several new projects they have been working on. One of them was the controllable high-fidelity 3D facial performance transfer. For example, you can transfer your facial expressions to a dog’s face. Recent technological advances in facial capture have made it possible to acquire high-fidelity 3D facial performance data with stunningly high spatial-temporal resolution. This paper introduces a novel facial expression transfer and editing technique for high-fidelity facial performance data. The key idea of our approach is to decompose high-fidelity facial performances into high-level facial feature lines, large-scale facial deformation and fine-scale motion details and transfer them appropriately to reconstruct the retargeted facial animation in an efficient optimization framework. This project was among Microsoft Research’s contributions to SIGGRAPH 2014. Read more about it at MSR. ...

Read More →

Microsoft today updated their social network Socl with new features and improved user experience. Find the list of new features and improvements below, Even faster post creation. Now Socl provides an inline post creator ideally suited for fast creation of text, link or single image posts. All of Socl’s existing capabilities are just a click away. Streamlined navigation. Easily dive in to the content types you prefer to discuss or create using the Socl ‘app’ picker in the main navigation bar, or hang out in the main feed to participate in all the action. Directed posts. In addition to public posts, Socl now also allows you to make posts visible only to you or to people you choose. Collect while creating. Now you can collect your post while creating it, and creating new collection is easier than ever before. More inline video support. Now in addition to YouTube, most of ...

Read More →

At SIGGRAPH 2014, the 41st International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, which starts today in Vancouver, British Columbia, Microsoft Research team is presenting many new projects. In the morning, we reported about the project that which can convert GoPro camera videos into beautiful smooth time-lapse videos called Hyperlapse videos. In this project, MSR is trying to make cheap depth camera by using the regular 2D camera which are found on mobile devices and webcams. After minor modifications, this camera can be used for interactive scenarios. Watch the video above for more. Among Microsoft Research’s contributions to SIGGRAPH 2014, a machine learning technique for estimating absolute, per-pixel depth using any conventional monocular 2D camera, with minor hardware modifications. Our approach targets close-range human capture and interaction where dense 3D estimation of hands and faces is desired. We use hybrid classification-regression forests to learn how to map from ...

Read More →

A new Microsoft Research project is going to make all the GoPro videos captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling. You can’t watch the video of someone climbing a mountain from a first person perspective, when you watch it in 10x speed, it will become too shaky. At high speed-up rates, simple frame sub-sampling coupled with existing video stabilization methods does not work, because the erratic camera shake present in first-person videos is amplified by the speed-up. To overcome this problem, MSR’s algorithm first reconstructs the 3D input camera path as well as dense, per-frame proxy geometries. Then they optimize a novel camera path for the output video (shown in red) that is smooth and passes near the input cameras while ensuring that the virtual camera looks in directions that can be rendered well from the input. After that, they compute geometric proxies for ...

Read More →

If you are following the cloud computing industry for the past few years, the title should not have surprised you. Microsoft Azure continues its momentum of gaining customers more than Amazon and Google. A survey of CIOs by the research firm Pacific Crest Securities has found enterprise customers are going to spend more money on Microsoft’s Azure and Office 365 than Google and Amazon Web Services. Also, Microsoft was the second most preferred supplier for public and private cloud services behind VMware. For the survey, Pacific Crest checked in with CIOs at 152 companies with 1,000 or more employees — most of them with over 5,000 employees. That at least partially explains the overall strength for Microsoft: Big as it is, Amazon’s AWS tends to be more popular with earlier-stage (and therefore smaller) companies. One thing that large enterprises tend to like, writes Pacific Crest’s Brendan Barnicle, is that Microsoft’s cloud tends ...

Read More →

As part of the Channel 9’s Microsoft Research Luminaries series, this week’s video features John Platt, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond who has been working in AI now for 32 years. In the video, they talk about his work in the resurgent research area of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the impact of deep learning on those fields. Platt, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond, tells interviewer Larry Larsen that he has been with Microsoft for 17 years, but that he has spent no fewer than 32 years in the AI domain. At Larsen’s prompting, Platt then attempts to define and differentiate what is meant by the terms “AI” and “machine learning.” “They’re very intertwined,” he begins. “I would define artificial intelligence as software that’s trying to emulate the human mind. That’s often specific to a domain, like computers that can ...

Read More →

Station Q is a Microsoft Research lab located on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Topological quantum computing is the main research area over there. They are exploring theoretical and experimental approaches to creating the reliable quantum analog of the traditional bit—the qubit. If you don’t know anything about Quantum Computing, watch the short animated video above from the Microsoft Stories team. Station Q’s strategy, to build a quantum computer based on “topological degrees of freedom,” is theoretically harder to get off the ground initially, but if and when they get it working, it will be very scalable. “Our pursuit is not strictly academic in nature. We dream a dream this will one day inform our product strategy, and be of utilitarian and economic importance,” Mundie said. “Because of that we care about getting on a path that would give us the quickest ability to do something that ...

Read More →