Microsoft OneAlbum


Microsoft Research have got another great project on the go, this one is called OneAlbum. Using advanced facial recognition algorithms, OneAlbum will scan the photos on your machine, identify the people that appear most often and then go off and find relevant pictures in other people’s social networking accounts.

This will be perfect for finding all the pictures of you/your partner/your kids that were taken at the last birthday/BBQ/impromptu gathering and posted by a bunch of people on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Picasa and countless other sites.

I’m  not much into gatherings and pictures and social networking (Twitter excluded) but I can imagine that a lot of people spend a lot of time going through people’s accounts trying to find pictures from last night etc :-)

Thanks to Mary Jo (again) and her article here.

Microsoft Research: Project Gustav


Microsoft Research are at it again!

Project Gustav takes digital painting (at least) one step closer to looking like authentic brush paintings, giving it an un-paralleled level of realism:

Pastel fishSmearing effectsStreaky horsePastel clouds - (Cloud computing??)

“It achieves interactivity and realism by leveraging the computing power of modern GPUs, taking full advantage of multitouch and tablet input technology and our novel natural media-modeling and brush-simulation algorithms.”

You can see more info and a video over on the Microsoft Research site here:

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/gustav/default.aspx

Microsoft’s Cloud Mouse


Microsoft’s TechFest 2010, a showcase of MS Research technology, has got some gems this time (Mobile Surface & Translate a Phone) and this is another one, potentially.

A joint project between MS Research Asia & Cambridge brings us the Cloud Mouse:

“Every user will have one. It will be a secure key to every user’s cloud data. And, with six degrees of freedom and with tactile feedback, the cloud mouse will enable users to orchestrate, interact with, and engage with their data as if they were inside the cloud.”

That description has got a real “Minority Report” style feel to it or, at least CSI Miami:

I’d be very interested to find out more…

Again, thanks to Mary Jo Foley for this…

Microsoft’s Mobile Surface


Microsoft’s interactive, multi touch, 23rd century Surface is brilliant. However it is also, literally, the size of a table and so not particularly portable.

However, Mary Jo Foley has uncovered information of a planned “Mobile Surface”. Microsoft Research’s site states:

“Our goal is to bring Microsoft Surface experience to mobile scenarios, and more importantly, to enable 3D interaction with mobile devices. We do research on how to transform any surface (e.g., a coffee table or a piece of paper) to Mobile Surface with a mobile device and a camera-projector system. Besides this, our work also includes how to get 3D object model in real-time, augmented reality and multiple-layer 3D information presentation.”

I’d carry one of those about if it meant I could turn any surface into a multi-touch surface that I could use, demo, play and work on :-)

Microsoft’s Translate–a-Phone


Microsoft don’t always get the credit they deserve for being innovative, cutting-edge and cool but this new project is all those things.

Software that translates, pretty much on the fly, the real time conversation you’re having…with a real person…right now. Awesome and very useful! As you can see in the video below, it will transcribe and translate the audio and paste it into Office Communicator for you; it will then also allow you to archive that off into Exchange. Seeing,and hearing, the real time translation is pretty amazing…the German is being spoken at a regular, conversational rate and while there are some grammatical/syntaxical errors, it’s more than good enough to get the gist of what the other person is saying.

This is going to be hugely useful is so many areas, especially in multi-national corporations. Bechtle are in (I think) 14 countries and there are times that this would be brilliant.

Of our foreign locations, I have most contact with our German HQ and while I speak rudimentary German, and they pretty great English, sometimes that just isn’t enough. Particularly if discussing complicated/technical issues you don’t want the added complexity of words (if not sentences) being missed out or mis-understood…and this would go a long way to removing that element of doubt. I’m off to see if I can become some kind of tester for this ;-)

Shout out to Tech Flash for this.

Microsoft Research & Guitar Hero


Guitar Hero is awesome (and Rockband-don’t worry!) and Microsoft Research are pretty great too. So what happens when you put the two together? I’ll tell you…playing Guitar Hero without a controller!

This would definitely reduce the amount of space that all the guitars take up, and make it easier to carry them around (should you wish). They also show the technology being used to control an MP3 player whilst out jogging…just move a finger to skip, pause, play etc…something that would definitely take off :-)

Again, more great work from Microsoft Research :-)

Microsoft Total Recall


This is a great piece on the work going on inside Microsoft Research called MyLifeBits. Gordon Bell and his colleague Jim Gemmell have been working to digitally record nearly everything that goes in in Gordon’s life…and make it a useful data repository. As Graham said:

“I was saving everything, but it became clear that the problem was a search problem. You could save everything…but the big problem was organizing and then searching…”

They created a database to store all this data and then wrote software to collect, scan and label all the things captured, which include emails, pictures, phone calls, web pages visited, documents, scanned receipts and more!

A real life example:

“If I’ve ever seen a Web page, I’ve got a copy of it, and I can find it again quickly because I only have to search my own corpus, not the entire Web.”

That sounds pretty great to me :-) The number of times that I know I’ve seen something on a site and I either can’t remember which one, or I get the right site but just can’t find the page is crazy…and this’d be a good way to sort that out. Not sure about storing EVERY web page though you know ;-)

This work is a great example not just of what Microsoft Research get up to, but also a great example of what IT in general can do for the world. 10-15 years down the line when MyLifeBits is commonplace-finding information will be so much easier!

Check out the full article over at MS Research here.