Weekend Reading for March 6/7: Translating Telephones, Digital Painting and More.

One of the great things about working at Microsoft is watching great minds at work. This week we saw plenty of that. Here in Redmond Microsoft held its annual “TechFest,” for employees.  Think of this as a Science Fair for really clever grown-ups – in this case, the brains at Microsoft Research. It’s also something of a time machine, as it gives us a glimpse of technology that might be widespread in the near future.

The event is primarily for Microsoft employees but we do have some great videos and articles about some of the technology showcased at TechFest.  Here are just some of the great videos:

Craig Mundie, our chief research and strategy officer, says we are at an inflection point in computing, where we move from a world of keyboards and mice to a world where we interact with computers in a much more natural, intuitive way. Watch him discuss the implications of this for healthcare, entertainment, work, and other areas.

Really Painting Digitally.  Want to paint, but don’t want to deal with those messy brushes and oils? Paint programs have been around for a long time, but nothing has approached the act of real-world painting…until now. Watch this video about Project Gustav, a painting program that re-creates how brushes and paints actually behave. It’s amazing. Even the shadow a brush casts on a canvas is duplicated. Think of the work this would have saved Michelangelo during that Sistine project.

Translating Telephones. It’s a wonderful world, but language still can divide people. What if that barrier didn’t exist? Microsoft Research is working on a “translating telephone” that transcribes and translates conversations in near real time. It’s a work in progress, but the potential is fantastic.

Mobile Surface.  You have probably seen Microsoft Surface and wondered, "can I get one to go?".  Well now you can, almost.  Thanks to the team at Microsoft Research any surface, such as a coffee table or a piece of paper, can be turned in to a Mobile Surface allowing you to interact with your PC. 

Lastly, we spend a lot of money on research and we firmly believe great research is what will give Microsoft a great future.  Rick Rashid, senior vice president for Microsoft Research, has some thoughts on why this research is important.

Cloud Services.  A full calendar at Microsoft this past week also included a speech by Steve Ballmer at the University of Washington’s campus on the topic of cloud services.  Steve talked about 5 dimensions for cloud services, and the huge opportunities cloud services offer both the tech industry and society. We have the whole speech (and the demos) available on demand, and some of the highlights too.  Well worth watching.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Dominic Carr
Director, Microsoft News Center.

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