Microsoft researchers are developing a new collaborative mobile-phone application codenamed "Newport" that is designed to facilitate the sharing of content (like photos and notes), as well as location, during phone calls.
Newport is focused on maintaining user privacy, but also on bridging the PC-phone gap. From a newly published white paper about Newport I found on the Microsoft Research site:
"Beyond the value of sharing with the person you are communicating with, sharing potentially sensitive context information such as your location only during a phone call may address some of the privacy concerns raised by systems that constantly broadcast your location to your contacts. We also designed Newport to bridge a gap between phones and computers, inspired by frustration that mobile phones and computers with complementary functions are often used in isolation, even when both devices are available."
The Newport whitepaper cites as an example the ability of the Newport desktop client to recognize, via Bluetooth, when a user is on a mobile call, and then subsequently provides additional functionality on a PC to support sharing and collaboration.
The coauthors of the Newport white paper are Microsoft researcher A.J. Brush and Junius A. Gunaratne, with the University of California at Irvine.
An interesting side note: When clicking on a few of the footnote links in the Newport whitepaper, I found a link to a Microsoft Research project codenamed "Courier." The MSR Courier looks to have nothing to do with the Courier tablet device that Microsoft was incubating -- and last week, acknowledged that it had eliminated.
The Microsoft Research Courier, described in a white paper dating back to 2008, is described as "a system that leverages the storage capacity and communication capabilities of the mobile phone to facilitate the viewing and exchange of PC-based documents when users are away from their desks." It sounds like more of a synchronization technology and possibly one of the precursors to Newport.
Here's a diagram of the Microsoft Research Courier from the white paper. (Click on the picture below to enlarge.)
At the end of the Newport paper, I also found a mention a Microsoft Research project codenamed "Menlo" -- a codename I've been trying to decipher since I first got a tip on it a few months ago. More on Menlo in my next post....
While Microsoft Research projects may take years to turn into commercial products/technologies -- if they ever do -- many of those projects end up influencing or filtering into Microsoft's commercial product line.