It used to be that Bell Labs, in New Jersey, was one of the premier scientific research labs in the US. After all, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone started the Volta Lab, which later became the Bell Laboratory. One of their most prestigious inventions came in 1948, the transistor, which now appears in every electronic device in the world. But now, Microsoft may be the company that is pushing the boundaries of new technology.
At the Techforum exhibition, new technologies were presented that have a certain Star Trek feel to them, meaning that you don’t have to wait for the 23 century to see the future.
The holoflector is a device where graphics are superimposed on your reflection to create an extended reality experience.
Behind the screen overlays utilizes a transparent organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display with view-dependent and depth-corrected gaze to manipulate virtual objects on screen.
Lifebrowser builds a timeline around landmarks like appointments, photos and computing activities, which enables people to search and retrieve associated content. It manages machine learning and reasoning to help people navigate through large stores of information to access “memory landmarks” – events and activities that people would find important.
The Translator Hub enables language communities and others to create automatic translation systems.
You have a meeting with participants in different cities. One person writes on a board, but everyone else takes notes. But IllumiShare enables people to remotely share any physical or digital object on any surface. People can sketch together using real ink and paper, remote meeting attendees can interact with conference room whiteboards, and children can have remote play dates in which they play with real toys. Illumishare also integrates Skype video chatting.
3D Telepresence provides a glassless 3D display that enables correct camera pose and view pose for a live view-dependent 3D Window Telepresence experience.
So how do you measure time? This may be one of physics biggest problems but it is also one for evolutionary biologists, historians, anthropologists, astronomers, you name it; anyone that needs to show time frames knows the difficulty. ChronoZoom will enable transitioning between scales of one year to billions of years, putting historical episodes in context, comparing vast amounts of time-related data across different fields and disciplines.
Marketing operations…so you want to open a new retail shop, where do you put it? You can use a large-scale display to overlay multiple sources of data and information to help him decide the best location to open a new retail shop.
Want to see a concert? How about a sports event? You can use Bing to search for and purchase game or concert tickets directly.
From these examples, Microsoft shows that their R&D is not just about software and operating systems. In fact, some of these examples, may portend a new company that makes some of these products. With the changing focus to Xbox, Windows Phone 7, Microsoft Mouse, and embedded systems, Microsoft may be planning a new direction, the way Apple went from PC’s to tables and mobile phones. They won’t abandon software, but they may be ready to make a transition to another type of company, not just a company product. They may create a new company that does hardware.
With multiple technologies available and still more on the drawing board, Microsoft could be the 21st technical innovator that could lead many other companies into Star Trek territory.
You hear that Spock?
Yes Captain I heard that.
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