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Microsoft Shows Off Future Product Tech 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-lcars dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Microsoft opened a portion of its fifth TechFair to Silicon Valley residents, demonstrating more than 15 technologies, which included everything from real-time translation to mobile-to-mobile networking to improved image stitching. The top two that really stood out were the translating telephone, which actually used no 'telephone' at all — it was a test to discover how well Microsoft's speech algorithms could interpret speech, translate it, and then speak the translation using text-to-speech algorithms — and Manual Deskterity, a new paradigm for a user interface; a right-handed user's left hand, for example, can be used for coarse manipulations of objects, while the right can be used for fine manipulation, such as with a pen. It sounds a bit simplistic, at least at this stage. Since one of the charters of Microsoft Research is that the work should eventually be moved to product teams, there's a good chance that the prototypes will eventually be made available to the public at large."
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Microsoft Shows Off Future Product Tech

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  • by Itninja (937614) on Friday May 07, 2010 @04:39PM (#32133344) Homepage
    Two words: Courier Tablet
    • No. [technet.com]

    • by clang_jangle (975789) on Friday May 07, 2010 @05:17PM (#32133516) Journal
      winfs!

      Yeah, microsoft's "previews of future tech" are entertaining. As many dog-and-pony shows are.
    • by node 3 (115640) on Friday May 07, 2010 @06:44PM (#32134028)

      That's what I thought was so funny about this part:

      Since one of the charters of Microsoft Research is that the work should eventually be moved to product teams, there's a good chance that the prototypes will eventually be made available to the public at large.

      There's pretty much zero chance of that research reaching the public.

      There's no doubt that MS Research gets into some interesting stuff, but very little of it ever sees the light of day. The main reason for this is precisely because they do get into some interesting stuff. It's really difficult to make a product out of something that uses one hand for coarse actions and the other for fine actions, or to build an actual, working universal translator.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by gig (78408)

        Microsoft Research is a nerd-fest only. It's a hobbyist fair. Entertainment for geeks. It has nothing to do with actual product development.

        Microsoft's product development is all done outside the company:

        - Windows is a clone of Mac
        - MS Office is a Mac app
        - DOS was a clone of CP/M
        - XBox is a clone of PlayStation
        - Zune is a clone of iPod
        - Bing is a clone of Google

        None of this stuff came out of Microsoft Research.

        So yes, zero chance that this latest nerd-fest produces any products.

        • Microsoft Research is a nerd-fest only. It's a hobbyist fair. Entertainment for geeks. It has nothing to do with actual product development.

          MSR is responsible for some important bits of .NET, which is definitely very much a shipping product.

          Just because you don't know about it, doesn't mean that it does not exist.

        • by wmac (1107843)
          We are clone of a monkey!
        • by mikestew (1483105)

          Ah, an opportunity to make the tired old claim of "Microsoft doesn't innovate"! Who can turn that down?

          Let's see, off the top of my head, a list of MSR products that made it into production:
          SPOT watches and the like
          F#
          Pieces of SQL Server
          That thing with the little LCD display in the lid of a laptop, pretty sure that was MSR
          Photosynth (with credit to University of Washington for collaboration)

          That's just what I can think of, I'm sure I missed a few. Does MSR crank out a lot of stuff that will never see the l

          • "That thing with the little LCD display in the lid of a laptop, pretty sure that was MSR"

            Um... that's kind of underwhelming. Not the kind of thing that rises to the level of requiring MSR brains, I don't think.

      • There's pretty much zero chance of that research reaching the public.

        There's no doubt that MS Research gets into some interesting stuff, but very little of it ever sees the light of day.

        Actually, quite a lot of their stuff sees the light of the day - it's just not often credited as such, and usually vastly reworked from the original prototypes.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          There's pretty much zero chance of that research reaching the public.

          There's no doubt that MS Research gets into some interesting stuff, but very little of it ever sees the light of day.

          Actually, quite a lot of their stuff sees the light of the day - it's just not often credited as such, and usually vastly reworked from the original prototypes.

          Not really. This Willy Wonka stuff they show off never makes it out, and that's what I'm referring to. The "vastly reworked" stuff you are referring to is a tame version of the "oh, this is cool" stuff.

      • by w0mprat (1317953)
        Thus you have highlighted bug #1 with 21st century technology. There's no shortage of research, but it just doesn't reach consumers, the real world is stuck several paradigms back in the mouse+keyboard+desktopmetaphor that was forged in a research lab upwards of 30 years ago. The best change I've noted reccently is capacitive multitouch screens on a few small computing devices, and a few smartphones finally getting usable voice recognition. I can't quite put my finger on the problem, but you know what I mea
    • F# Seadragon ( http://www.seadragon.com/ [seadragon.com] ) StreamInsight ( http://blogs.msdn.com/streaminsight/archive/2009/08/20/streaminsight-goes-public.aspx [msdn.com] ) Surface ClearType
    • by macshome (818789)
      Hey! That's four words!
    • Two words: Courier Tablet

      Hey, come on. It's not Microsoft's fault that they got confused between their viable products and an Elite's Imperial spaceships.

  • One of the technologies showcased looked a little bit interesting. It was a "pseudo-3D". Here's from TFA:

    "Akeley's prototype uses depth filtering, layering different focal planes on top of one another to give the eye something to focus upon as a 3d object moves "closer" and "farther" from the eye."

    Could it mean 3D without funny glasses? I have no idea, but I hope so.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by gyrogeerloose (849181)

      Could it mean 3D without funny glasses? I have no idea, but I hope so.

      Given Microsoft's penchant for announcing vaporware, I'll believe it when I see it. However, if it means 3D without headaches or eyestrain, I'll take it--even if it does come from Microsoft.

  • Will any of this new MS technology help Slashdot process Javascript better?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Qzukk (229616)

      No, Slashdot is just fucked. Not even Google Chrome (faster than a speeding french fry!) can save it now.

      Only those of us who can figure out how to get around their ajax crap stand a chance.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by hitmark (640295)

        i have most of it disabled (classical comments view and all). Still some areas that revert to 2.x style tho.

        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          by leamanc (961376)

          I too have the classic discussion system enabled in my prefs. The performance issues are one thing, but I can't figure out what the fuck's what with the 2.0 version. Every time I scroll, the page seems to go nowhere, then it offers to load "x" number of more comments, which then changes to a completely random "x" again. What a god-awful mess. If this was an attempt to mimic Digg's discussion system (and aren't most recent Slashdot developments a reaction to Digg's popularity?), then they failed miserabl

      • I for one welcome us, the new overlords :)

    • by jon3k (691256)
      amen. how do I turn off these fucking comments already. firefox grinds to a halt every time I open a story from google reader.
  • New
    Innovative
    Revolutionary
    Creative
    Cool
    Microsoft

    Can you figure out which one?
    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday May 07, 2010 @05:24PM (#32133546)

      Can you figure out which one?

      I'm going to guess Innovative because it's the only one that starts with a vowel? Or maybe Revolutionary because it uses all the vowels (even the sometimes vowel)?

    • by Hoplite3 (671379) on Friday May 07, 2010 @05:52PM (#32133684)

      Revolutionary.

      Microsoft research does good work. Some of the ideas that come out of there are definitely cool and creative, like surface. Others are new and innovative, like the tablet. What Microsoft can't seem to do is to move ideas from research into products. There's a big institutional roadblock that prevents them from pushing new, innovative, creative, and cool ideas out the door. The result: no revolution.

      And yeah, I think it will kill them in the long run if they can't fix that problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Singularity [wikipedia.org] was an interesting project. I only wish that they would have shepherded it along until it was closer to a commercial product.
      • by pspahn (1175617)

        Can't they just hire someone from Bell Labs who has actually turned an idea into an awesome product the entire world relies on?

        Where is the flaw? Do they think they're the Yankees and can just throw more money at it? Maybe they need to start thinking along the lines of the A's and try instead to build intelligently and within their means.

        • by mick88 (198800)

          The sad fact is Yankees win world series and Billy Beane's A's never do. Microsoft _is_ the Yankees (or modern-day Chelsea for our UK brethren) of technology. Lotta money and they keep winning, even if people don't like it.

          Yes there have been teams on the cheap that pop up and win every so often. But when it's an open-market free-for-all (no salary caps or revenue sharing) like MLB or the English Premier League, the teams with the money win the leagues.

          So Microsoft, Cisco, IBM and HP (and now Google?) will

      • by williamhb (758070)
        I don't know ... Microsoft Surface and Project Natal were both pieces of cool research that have moved into products. MS are aware that it's been hard to transition technology between Microsoft Research and the product teams, but it is an issue they are working on, and seem to be getting better at.
      • After reading the article and going through the pictures I was quite surprised how mundane a lot of the technologies are. The tablet table or whatever it's called has been showcased by Microsoft for years but they've yet to produce a competitor OS to the iPhone or Andriod. I noticed an ad for the Kin next to the article Another big ticket item seemed to be the photo stitching for images - which reminds me of the software that my Canon camera came with 5 years ago. This might work better but it is five y
      • by xtracto (837672)

        I know that some of MS Research stuff is really good. I've been to some academic presentations from people working there.

        I find current MS status exactly as how Xerox was when Apple and MS begun. PARC labs where doing a lot of really good stuff but the management failed to transform it to real useful products. It will be other small companies who will come to do it... that in theory, of course patents will ultimately block such kind of innovation. yay!

      • by JThundley (631154)

        Microsoft Surface is revolutionary? Have a lol [youtube.com].

    • by chaim79 (898507)

      Microsoft, it has nothing to do with those other words. :)

  • This might not be far-fetched at all. I identified decades ago, before I was even legally an adult, that I had precisely that division of labor between my two hands and arms, and indeed probably between both entire halves of my body and brain: one half performed brute force maneuvers requiring strength, while the other specialized in performing actions requiring precision. Thus I write and manipulate a spoon with one hand, while using the other to throw a ball, swing a bat, and wield a steak knife. To so

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Wacom has a fancy tablet-with-integrated-display called the Cintiq, it has buttons on it that you can use to rotate the image... with your left hand, while you're holding a stylus with the right. Microsoft is late to the party.

  • Market testing.... That's what MS does with new ideas... but it doesn't mean they will produce.

  • I wish I could be more impressed by that.. but I'm not. It's already trivial to...
    1. take a video source
    2. split up into images
    3. from those images, sort by quality (least blur to most blur)
    4. map them onto the panoramic plane (thanks to it being video, you can use motion vectors to help this process, but it's not really needed.. existing algorithms will chew through them easily enough)
    5. remove those images that are superfluous (i.e. not needed for covering the entire canvas)
    6. blend (using al algorithm a

  • "Manual Deskterity" (did not see this term referenced in the slideshow by the way - where did it come from?) sounds like something they developed just so they could patent it. This seems like the natural progression for something like the Wiimote or possibly even an iPad-like device, considering it's what people do naturally anyway.

    Funny thing I noticed flipping through the slideshow: many of the annoying pop-up mouseover ads open a bing window (including the word "Apple"). Of course there are also Google a

  • Microsoft opened a portion of its fifth TechFair to Silicon Valley residents, demonstrating more than 15 technologies...

    Good god, I thought schools taught people to count up to one hundred AT LEAST.

  • > "a right-handed user's left hand, for example, can be used for coarse manipulations of objects, while the right can be used for fine manipulation, such as with a pen"

    Or you can just plug a second mouse in. People freak out when they see it ("that can't work!") but it does. Just pick two mice with a different number of "mickeys" resolution.

    • > "a right-handed user's left hand, for example, can be used for coarse manipulations of objects, while the right can be used for fine manipulation, such as with a pen"

      Or you can just plug a second mouse in. People freak out when they see it ("that can't work!") but it does. Just pick two mice with a different number of "mickeys" resolution.

      have you found anything that works to have two cursors simultaneously in windows?

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        have you found anything that works to have two cursors simultaneously in windows?

        You could try drinking until your eyes cross - Windows has been known to do that to people ... it won't make Windows run any better, but it will dull the pain :-)

  • It would be nice to see a real article about the more interesting sounding things but as it is, I'm not impressed.
    Check out this page, Paul Haeberli's wonderful old site Grafica Obscura from when he was at SGI.
    http://www.graficaobscura.com/merge/index.html [graficaobscura.com]

    This is his famous image merging by projective warp program, where he could take a bunch of snapshots and automatically warp and stitch them together. I think this is from 1995 or so. It references papers from 1991 and this one from 1994: S. Mann and R. W.

  • A few months back, we were seeing comparisons between five Microsoft mice prototypes against the then-new Apple Magic Mouse (the mouse with a build in touch surface). What everyone recognized then and seems to recognize now is that there's a big difference between an actual shipping product and prototypes that may be cost prohibitive, cumbersome, or otherwise unacceptable to consumers due to the numerous details that need to be worked out in the process of going from prototype to product. Microsoft is quick

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