Microsoft shows off NUI, Kinect-focused research projects

Microsoft Research is showing off publicly more natural-user-interface and Kinect-based projects ahead of the company's annual TechFest research showcase for employees.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officials held a day-long event on campus on February 27 to show off long-term research projects that build around natural language user interfaces and the company's Kinect sensor.

At that event, known as TechForum, the Softies demonstrated everything from a Kinect-powered shopping cart (a project developed by Chaotic Moon and pioneered by Whole Foods), to a see-through desktop also using the Kinect sensor.

Here's Microsoft's video with more on how these new interactive displays work:

Company officials are posting videos with short demonstrations of some of the TechForum projects on The Next at Microsoft blog.

While Kinect and NUI demos have all the glitz, I think the ChronoZoom project -- which originally was built with Microsoft's SeaDragon "DeepZoom" technology and is now an HTML5-based app hosted on Windows Azure -- is equally interesting.  Microsoft and its university partners on the project are planning to launch on March 14 (Albert Einstein's birthday). ChronoZoom is about making huge amounts of "big history" data available in an interactive timeline form.

TechForum was an event for a group of select media. Microsoft is holding a similar event to which it is inviting select guests, its TechFest preview, on March 6. From the agenda, it looks like NUI technology also will be a big theme there. There also will be talks on the future of privacy in social media and machine learning and intelligence.

The day after the TechFest preview, Microsoft will hold its annual TechFest research showcase for employees. At past TechFests, various Microsoft Research teams have exhibited some of their latest projects, hoping to attract product group suitors which are interested in bringing them under their wings to take them commercial.

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