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In Pictures: 10 Microsoft research projects

An early look at cutting-edge technology being developed by Microsoft

  • Innovation is not just about cool new products. In technology, the best ideas require a) really smart people and b) lots of funding. For the past 33 years, Microsoft has had both in spades. Yet, the precursor to any product release is the research and innovation that occurs before the first shipment to customers, that "pre-pre-alpha" stage where ideas are born. In a recent two-day visit to Microsoft corporate headquarters, we met with several researchers working on new projects. A few of these projects have already resulted in shipping products; others may never see the light of day -- they are meant as a proof of concept. Some could change how we do computing altogether. Yet, all of them are driven by bright thinkers who are working to solve real-world technical problems.

  • Picture a natural disaster. Picture emergency response teams gathered at a command center. Picture all of the available data from multiple sources aggregated into one coherent graphical representation. That's Eagle 1.

  • It looks like an ordinary table, except for the object recognition and sophisticated software that allows multiple people to "control" their part of the interactive screen via touch.

  • Business-grade collaboration like you've never seen it before. Just drop your keyboard and mouse onto the table and go.

  • Picture an iPhone-type touch interface on a device the size of a large, wall-mounted HDTV.

  • A real-time, trend aggregator.

  • Anyone with large hands knows how hard it is to control a tiny smartphone interface. LucidTouch can help.

  • Think of this as the SharePoint of application development modeling.

  • A software development tool with enhanced data modeling features.

  • A mouse for all surfaces.

  • Microsoft hopes to deploy robo-receptionists at company headquarters next year.

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