Microsoft's Bing Augmented Reality team readies framework, Windows 8 tablet apps

Microsoft's Bing Augmented Reality team readies framework, Windows 8 tablet apps

Summary: Microsoft's Bing Information Platform team is working on an augmented-reality SDK, as well as a number of related apps for Windows 8 tablets and other devices.


The Microsoft Bing team is doing more than building a search engine that competes head-to-head with Google.

Part of the team, as I've blogged previously, also built some of the first Microsoft-branded consumer apps for Windows 8.

But it turns out there's another team inside the Bing organization that is working on Windows 8 apps, too. There's an Augmented Reality (AR) team inside Bing that is building both an AR framework and AR applications that will ship on Windows 8 tablets and other unspecified devices.



In keeping with Microsoft's new charter as a devices and services company, the so-called "Bing Information Platform team" is in the midst of developing "next-generation of intelligent cloud services for developers on all screen sizes," according to a couple of job openings posted on Microsoft's site.

This AR-focused Bing team is working on everything from camera tracking, to visual and audio recognition, to optical character recognition and translation and vision-based natural-user interfaces. The team already has made available some AR deliverables, including the Bing translation app, augmented-reality-enriched Bing Maps, and the Bing Vision and Bing Audio technologies in Windows Phone.

But the Bing AR team -- which is staffing up further -- also is working on an AR software development kit (SDK) for third-party developers interested in buildng AR apps; Microsoft-developed and -branded AR apps and games using this SDK; and a Windows Azure-based cloud framework for supporting both the Microsoft- and third-party AR apps.

The AR focus inside Bing shouldn't be too much of a surprise, given that Microsoft moved many of those working on its defunct Live Labs team into Bing a couple of years back. The Bing unit also is home to Microsoft's TellMe and other speech-centric products.

It will be interesting to see what kind of AR apps for Windows 8 the Bing Information Platform team builds out. Will any of these apps be optimized for the AR glasses -- codenamed Fortaleza, and targeted for delivery in 2014 according to a Microsoft futures deck that leaked earlier this year -- upon which Microsoft's Xbox team is believed to be working?

Topics: Software Development, Microsoft, Tablets


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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  • Interesting ideas

    What would be nice, is if users could look through a tablet at a building, and see its underlying electrical, vent, and plumbing systems, beams, etc. The concept could be applied to just about anything, from electronics equipment / appliances, to cars - and even people. E.g. a doctor could order X-rays, MRIs, and tests be done on a patient, and a cloud service could do a composite of the information, and when the doctor looks at the patient through the AR program, he is able to see rich views of the patient's internal systems, as he traverses the patient's body with the tablet..
    P. Douglas
  • I would have thought that

    the SDK as referred to here:

    "But the Bing AR team -- which is staffing up further -- also is working on an AR software development kit (SDK) for third-party developers interested in buildng AR apps;"

    Would have already been developed. It seems that having third party developers contributing apps to any OS is pretty important in creating a robust ecosystem.

    What took so long to get this started?
  • With all MS has invested in nlp over the years

    it's mind boggling that they keep having to buy 3rd party companies for speech and they still don't have good speech solutions. Where is the WP8 voice command and assistant that blows away siri to the same degree that MS R&D spend blows away Apple and Googles combined spend on voice? Tellme falls incredibly short. Is MSR impotent at voice solutions or just at getting them integrated into W8/WP8? Who needs to be replaced to get some roi out of their decades long investments here?
    Johnny Vegas
    • It's time for Microsoft to sell Bing.

      Bing no longer serves any purpose for Microsoft, and only bleeds money.

      To succeed in search, Microsoft needs one of two things: A search product that is monumentally better than the competition (which Bing isn't), or a dominant smartphone platform (the smartphone is the gateway to the consumer). Microsoft has neither.

      Microsoft lost the smartphone war. There's no recovery, as Windows Phone 8 is an Apple-chasing product at a time when Apple is losing its dominance. Microsoft chased the wrong enemy, did it badly, and got everything wrong.

      Microsoft is wasting its time with Bing. It's game over. Time to sell.
  • GART?

    Hmm, I wonder if this new AR SDK has any relation to GART, the current standard library for AR apps on Windows Phone. GART is an awesome SDK but doesn't have support (yet) for Windows Store Apps (WinRT).
  • Microsoft needs to follow-thru

    Microsoft R&D comes up with some cool stuff that never sees the light of day or only comes to market when the competition basically has something similar. They are spending the money on R&D but they aren't monetizing the results as quickly as they should.
    Burger Meister