At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

Summary: Most of the TechFest 2011 projects that Microsoft is highlighting visibly are those that focus on using gestures, touch, computer vision and speech as ways to interact with PCs and other computing devices.

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This year's theme for Microsoft Research's TechFest research showcase is natural user interfaces (NUIs).

While the company is showing off some non-NUI-themed research at this year's event, most of the TechFest 2011 projects that the company is highlighting visibly are those that focus on using gestures, touch, computer vision and speech as ways to interact with PCs and other computing devices.

While Microsoft's most celebrated example of how the company successfully commercialized its early NUI work is the Kinect Xbox sensor, there's also quite a bit of focus by Microsoft's NUI researchers on the intersection between NUI and healthcare. I blogged earlier this year about how Microsoft is thinking about incorporating Surface 2, Xbox, Xbox Live and Kinect sensors into healthcare applications. There are a number of Microsoft Research projects exploring the NUI-health connection.

One of these project, known as InnerEye, is focused on "the automatic analysis of patients' (medical) scans using modern machine learning techniques," like semantic navigation and visualization. The Microsoft researchers on the project are working with the Microsoft Amalga team on Inner Eye, which is one of the demos being showcased at TechFest 2011.

Another area of NUI exploration, which doesn't seem to be on the TechFest 2011 agenda, is interacting without touching. Microsoft researchers are publishing a couple of new papers on this topic this year, one on image-guided interventional radiology (a PDF of which is available now), and another on brain-computer interaction.

Here's a list of the TechFest 2011 projects, NUI and non-NUI both, that the Softies are playing up this year.

Today, March 8, is the semi-public TechFest day, when certain invited guests get to peek at some of the projects that will be on display for Microsoft employees from March 8 to 10.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Hardware, Health, Legal, Microsoft, Mobility

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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17 comments
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  • Boring

    Apple does research and creates a product. Microsoft tests and tests and tests and dud.
    jznoy-dallas
    • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

      @jznoy-dallas
      Yes like Kinect, because they tested, tested and tested but never released /sarcasm.
      Ram U
      • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

        @Rama.NET

        Yea, it's not like the Kinect outsold the iPad or anything: http://www.techspot.com/news/41352-kinect-sells-25-million-units-in-25-days-twice-as-fast-as-the-ipad.html

        That was after Apple's iPad was called the most quickly adopted non-phone electronic device ever. Its adoption rate was faster than the DVD player. Well, the Kinect completely destroyed those numbers.
        Empro
    • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

      @jznoy-dallas , Apple people don't like to admit, but most of the elements in desktop computing actually came from Microsoft studies.

      I hev even read several notes about apple inventing the mouse. Puh-leze! The mouse was invented in 1969 -- way before Apple even had the Lisa. http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001083.htm
      frankwick
      • Links please

        Most of the elements in the GUI came from researchers, many of whom ended up at Xerox PARC. Apple has added quite a few along the way (e.g. regions, overlapping windows, etc), but it was their creative hardware effort that popularised the GUI.

        The mouse was invented by Stanford Research Institute ARC's Doug Engelbart. But this wasn't the end of the story. Apple funded the research (Hovey-Kelley) that produced the low cost mouse design used by everyone until recently. For some background:

        http://library.stanford.edu/mac/mouse.html

        What elements of modern computing come from "Microsoft studies" (assuming this doesn't mean studies of other's ideas;-).
        Richard Flude
      • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

        @Richard Flude
        http://research.microsoft.com
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Research
        Look at Wikipedia link and from there you can find many links. HTH.
        Ram U
      • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

        @Richard Flude

        One of the benefits of age Richard is that you don't have to rely on speculation or Wikipedia. I tried and used the Xerox Parc interface when it first came out, I saw the first feeble attempt from Apple to copy it with the Apple Lisa and the second attempt with the Mac. That's where they first started with their lipstick on a pig approach.

        As for the lame one button mouse, you will note that the original non Apple mice had multiple buttons and that's what we use today.

        Apple doesn't really need to do research, it can just repackage other products ;-)
        tonymcs@...
      • You must have better than that

        Rama.NET what in your links support the claim "most of the elements in desktop computing actually came from Microsoft studies"? I see none.<br><br>Tonymcs didn't even attempt to defend the claim so quick was he on the anti-Apple defensive. If you believe the GUI delivered by Apple for the Mac was less developed than the PARC's Alto then you are deluded.<br><br>Multiple buttoned mouse were not a MS invention either.<br><br>Still after a decade of claims, and me calling them out on ZDNet, the MCSE has not been able to come up with a single original MS contribution. Far short of the most elements the fanboys claim. We aren't surprised;-)

        Oh and Tonymcs, I'd be surprised if you've worked in IT much longer than me.
        Richard Flude
    • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

      @jznoy-dallas

      Apple does research into other people's products then repackages them and gets to work on marketing. Although there's only one born every minute, that's enough of a market for Apple.
      tonymcs@...
  • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

    yeah right, Apple believed they can establish a new socialnetwork like Ping. Fail!!!

    Apple has a long list of discontinued products.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_products_discontinued_by_Apple_Inc.
    iluvmsft
  • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

    @empro aybe because a Kinect and and iPad are event in the same zip code as far as being related technology
    TGGR
  • All this bickering over the mouse....

    First, until recently, Microsoft has had nothing to do with hardware. Now, they only have a brand of hardware.

    Apple designs hardware, but dosn't actually make the hadware anymore.

    Those two points in the back of your head now, lets move on to reality. Microsoft didn't invent the mouse, and they didn't popularize the mouse, but they actually do have a fairly nice BRAND of mouse... of which I hear is made by Logitech.

    Apple didn't invent the mouse, and they didn't popularize the mouse, but they did have someone else make them a nifty little simple mouse to use on their systems.

    What they BOTH did however, was give people a reason to use a mouse. They gave other companies a reason to make mice. They gave other companies a market that never existed before.

    All I see here are a bunch of narrowminded 3rd parties making claims about what two companies claimed they did. From where I'm sitting, that is heresay, and childish.

    From an IT perspective, I'm glad both companies exists, and I'm glad both companies give me a job. I could care less if its an Acer, Dell, or Apple; if its Mac OS or Microsoft. It all pays the same.

    If you truely believe one is better than the other, and that one never has any issues, then you have clearly never worked in IT.

    Never under estimate the ability of a user to F up a dummy proof system.
    ShadowGIATL
    • Sorry, but you're wrong

      @ShadowGIATL

      "[Microsoft] actually do have a fairly nice BRAND of mouse... of which I hear is made by Logitech."

      Wrong. Logitech doesn't make their own mice. They, like any other company, contracts out their manufacturing to some Chinese ODM. No part of Microsofts designs go to Logitech. Why should they? They'd just be paying Logitech to be a middle-man, and Logitech is Microsoft's biggest (and only real) competitor in input devices.

      Logitech's quality has been slipping lately too. Battery life on their sub-$50 and OEM cordless desktop sets is absolute crap, while you can get Microsoft sets for cheaper with better life. Also, Bluetrack is the cheap laser alternative, but Logitech doesn't have it. Microsoft has their "nano receiver" on more models too. Many of Logitech's high-end models are overpriced too, but Microsoft's stuff is a far better value. It's also easier to find Microsoft multipacks (formerly OEM packs) than it is to find any Logitech OEM packs.
      Joe_Raby
      • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

        @Joe_Raby

        Hmm... I thought Logitech WAS a Chinese company....

        At anyrate, it only further proves my point. It is super silly to have a peeing contest over which company makes the best outsourced product, and even more so about who invented it.

        It's one thing to point out proven weaknesses and strengths, but to constantly bicker about how one company or the other is some kind of humanized evil entity is absurd.

        It's simple. They are both companies. Companies exist to make money. If you want the companies to stop outsourcing to other countries known for crap, and actually start making quality goods, then you need to light up your local repersenitive's phone 24/7. Its the high taxes, and low profit margins here that have created the penny pinching crappy products you buy. And you buy them, so why would they stop?
        ShadowGIATL
    • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

      @ShadowGIATL
      +1,
      I wish tech blogs had a way to separate the adult conversations from the childrens section. I would pay a monthly fee for that!
      PhoneBiz
  • RE: At Microsoft, NUI goes beyond fun and games

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