Microsoft's future for productivity: More touch, pen, personal agents

Microsoft's latest future-concept video features software, services and hardware that are all about productivity.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is big on using concept videos to show its customers, partners and own employees its long-term vision for future technologies.

In its latest such video, the self-proclaimed productivity and platforms company shows off some concepts for the future of productivity.

Not too surprisingly, touch, voice, holograms and digital pens all feature prominently, as do all kinds of very thin screen tablets and hand-held mobile devices. There's a brief shot of a bendable, thin screen device that looks like it might be inspired by work Microsoft Research has done around flexible displays (and might include a bit of influence from the discontinued Courier project, to boot).

Ear pieces appear more than once in the new concept video, published earlier this month. And are also plenty of big-screen devices that go beyond the recently unveiled Surface Hub conferencing system which allows for multiuser, multitouch, multipen collaboration scenarios, with lots of room for next-gen analytics and presentations.

A digital bracelet also has a starring role in the new video. (As @h0x0d discovered recently, there's something codenamed "Project Blush" in Microsoft Research that is focused around "digital jewellery," so maybe that's where this Internet of Things device has its roots.)

In a description of what's going on in the video, Microsoft officials mention "personal agent" technology -- a project in which Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently said he's involved.

Gates described the coming Personal Agent technology as something "which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices."

From the description about the Personal Agent technology in Microsoft's latest video:

Kat's "personal agent proactively suggests options for her. She can now use simple gestures to accept the invitation, re-arrange her calendar, and book a space to prepare."

A number of the devices and scenarios in this latest video may look familiar to those who've toured Microsoft's Envisioning Center and/or watched other Microsoft concept videos in the past.

While there are no promises as to when, how or if anything in these videos will be commercialized, they're still worth a watch for anyone trying to get a bead on what's next for Microsoft.

Editorial standards