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Microsoft Research Struts Stuff

Microsoft Research has gotten many a bum rap from the business press. Journos who are fixated on stock prices and product launches just don't understand why Redmond would invest billions researching "a best-first alignment algorithm for automatic extraction of transfer mappings from bilingual corpora" or do a "comparative study of discriminative methods for re-ranking LVCSR N-best hypotheses in domain adaptation and generalization." (When you put it that way, I'm not so sure either!)

The real knock is that the billions spent on research don't magically turn into stock price-raising products.

And that's the point: Microsoft doesn't restrict its research to things that make money. It's interested in advancing the state-of-the-art in computer science.

But there are projects that could become products, and every so often Microsoft shows them off. At the recent Computer/Human Interaction 2007 Conference, Microsoft showed off a few cool projects, including Shift, a tool that lets you use your finger as a stylus for a mobile device. It also talked about two projects that bring users and customers into the product design phase.

Most intriguing to me is: "Do Life-Logging Technologies Support Memory for the Past? An Experimental Study Using SenseCam." The idea here is for people to wear a camera throughout their lives. The question is whether going back to actual images from the past changes how one remembers them.

This question is mildly intriguing, but the very idea of constantly wearing a camera and archiving all the footage is what really gets my wheels turning.

If only O.J. had been wearing one of these on June 12, 1994!

Posted by Doug Barney on May 03, 2007 at 11:52 AM


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