Microsoft demos innovations at annual TechFest
Audioconferencing, variations on 'Surface' computing, social e-mail programs on view
IDG News Service - If you’ve ever been frustrated with trying to determine who is speaking when listening to a conference call, help may be at hand.
At the annual TechFest event, Microsoft researchers showed off technology that can make it easier to notice when different like-sounding speakers are talking.
Current audioconferencing systems mix all audio into a single channel, said Zhengyou Zhang, principal researcher at Microsoft Research. The system he helped devise uses different audio channels so that each person’s voice sounds like it is coming from a different direction. Listening to a sample prerecorded audio conference in headphones, it was easy to tell that two different men with similar voices were indeed two people, because one man’s voice sounded like it was coming from the left and the other from the right.
The audio conference technology was one of many projects put on display by Microsoft’s researchers at TechFest. Technologies developed within Microsoft Research sometimes make it into commercial products, but not always.
Other technologies at TechFest came from Microsoft’s Cambridge facility, where researchers are working on systems designed to help people better organize and access photographs and other personal information.
David Kirk showed what looks like a variation of the Surface tabletop computer. It’s smaller and built into a wood table. While it uses infrared light to detect movement on the screen, like the Surface, its lights shine from the sides rather than beaming through the screen.
Users can dump photos from their digital cameras onto the computer and use the touch screen to arrange them into boxes. They can also place objects, such as mementos from a vacation, onto the screen, and a built-in overhead camera snaps a photo of the objects. That way people can integrate not just digital photos but physical items into the machine, Kirk said.
He and his team have built three of the tables and placed them in people’s homes to study how they use them. One newly married couple had a collection of notes that people who attended their wedding had written on the candy wrappers left at each person’s table. They were worried about how to best keep the notes and used the Microsoft device to take photos of each piece of paper and collect them, along with wedding photos, in a file.
Another family found that their 6-year-old son liked to take photos of his toy dinosaurs, arranging them in collections.
One of Kirk’s colleagues helped develop TimeCard, which could help people develop a timeline history of their families or themselves. Richard Banks, who demonstrated the project, showed off one that he’d created for his grandfather, who had been in the Royal Air Force during the World War II. The timeline included not just photos of his grandfather, but also general historical information about what was going on in the world at the same time as each photo was taken.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Government Agency Webifies Outdated COBOL Applications Let this CTO tell you how his agency converted 1980s-era green screens into an e-filing portal for the 100,000 cases handled each year...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts