Look who's heading up Microsoft's 'new devices' team

Look who's heading up Microsoft's 'new devices' team

Summary: One of the former brains behind Microsoft's Kinect is spearheading the company's efforts in new devices, including wearable technologies.

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Rumors (and leaks) about Microsoft's plans to deliver some kind of glasses akin to Google Glass have been making the rounds for more than a year.

fortalezaglasses

But it finally sounds like Microsoft's plans are firming up enough for Microsoft to be ordering components, at least according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

The original leaks about Microsoft's optometrical aspirations -- which came from a Microsoft slide deck from 2012 -- had Microsoft building augment-reality glasses to supplement its Xbox One. Those glasses, codenamed "Fortaleza," were targeted for delivery in 2014 (at that point).

A lot has changed since that slide deck made its debut. Google announced and began seeding developers with Google Glass. "Glassholes" became a thing. And all the major consumer tech vendors, including Microsoft, were falling over themselves to come up with unique (and some not-so-unique) wearable technology devices.

alexkipman

The person spearheading Microsoft's forays into wearables is Alex Kipman, I've heard from a couple of my contacts. Kipman is credited as one of the main visionaries behind Microsoft's Kinect sensor and has been heading up Xbox incubation for the past few years. (He previously worked on MSBuild and Vista Ultimate.)

My contacts say Kipman is now in charge of the "new devices" team that reports to Terry Myerson, who is head of Microsoft's unified operating system division. (The head of the new devices team under Myerson hadn't been named publicly.)

I asked Microsoft whether Kipman and his band are the ones working on Microsoft's version of Glass --  which I'm also hearing has evolved to become something other than just an Xbox peripheral. A spokesperson declined to comment.

Update: I've heard from a couple folks that Kipman can't/shouldn't be working on new hardware, since he isn't part of the Devices & Studios Group. I don't know what he's working on specifically. Maybe software or services? But I do hear he is working on new devices in some capacity and is working for Myerson....

There are a couple of points worth mentioning on the "new devices" front. As the Wall Street Journal noted in its latest report, these projects are experimental and may never enter mass production. It happens. (See Microsoft Courier.) Also -- there may be a Bing connection in this, as there's an augmented reality team in Bing that is supposedly building new augmented-reality applications for Windows tablets. 

Topics: Emerging Tech, Google, Microsoft, Windows

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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8 comments
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  • I hope that contrary to google glass, they actually have some style to them

    google has completely whiffed in that regard.
    Johnny Vegas
  • sign

    Microsoft has never been "major consumer tech vendor"....

    But, let's wonder a bit -- what OS the Microsoft Glass thing will run? Windows 8, or Windows RT? ;)
    danbi
    • The XBox, for example, is a major consumer product, and so

      is the Kinect device, and the "vendor" of those is Microsoft, believe it or not.

      Also, why can't WP8 be the OS for the "glasses" type device? That device and a smart watch from MS, could use a subset of WP8 or even a subset of RT. After all, there will be no ports and no support for large storage components and not support for touch screens that use multi-point gestures.
      adornoe
  • better

    First he must update the kinect with much better ones.
    The new glass must not make eye fried. This is important
    Utomo Prawiro
    • Kinect 2

      Coming Nov 22 at your request. "He" is fast!
      rmark@...
  • Look who's heading up Microsoft's 'new devices' team

    Microsoft already has a head start with augmented reality. They did have Nokia's City Lens available for their phones. The technology itself could use some improvement, not just Nokia's but all of them that I have seen. Microsoft's R&D teams are pretty good so I think they can clean up the UI on them a bit and we'll have some good wearable technology.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • On the face is OUT

    Rather than a face mounted wearable they need to look at ways to project what appears to be a large screen image directly into your eye from a wrist mounted device. The display technology is where it's at. This would eliminate the geeky glasses. Retinal projection could entirely replace monitors as we know them. Imagine having a 60" monitor that doesn't exist, but is merely a projection giving that appearance. The potential for viewing movies is incredible. It also would make real 3D a reality. The technology to identify faces, etc exists already, finding the pupil and focusing properly are just a step away.
    **owly**
  • its interesting...

    ... that some aspects are being swept under the rug in the race to ... but, glasses, but, facial recognition, but, retina utilisation!

    ... nobody is prepared to admit that facial recognition has a massive failure rate, particularly 'lea's' who are over invested in this sham, and I'm speaking from experience here...

    ... nobody has the faintest idea what the long term health aspects are for retinas, in an age where irreversible eye disease and damage is swept under the carpet...

    ... nobody will invest in long term research or risk management into unexpected or unforseen downsides ... because, virtual gizmos dude!

    Using my retinas, one of the most sensitive and easily damaged parts of my body for crap like this? Yeah right, that bearded dude can have total access any time he likes because... must have, like, something cool man, and my eyesight? ... meh, who needs it...
    btone-c5d11