Microsoft unveils new kit at TechFest

TechFest previously launched the Surface PC, AI tech for Live Search and the WorldWide Telescope
TechFest previously launched the Surface PC, AI tech for Live Search and the WorldWide Telescope

Craig Mundie today unveiled a bunch of new technologies at Microsoft's annual TechFest ("The & in R&D". Seriously) in Redmond.

Top billed at the one-day-only event was a new research organization called Cloud Computing Futures that has the goal of reducing data centre costs by fourfold or greater, all while increasing reliability.

"Our cloud computing research begins with a key concept: the datacenter is a computer, and it must be designed and programmed as an integrated system," said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research.

The environment is also a priority, with the two data centre projects on display (a closed-loop control system and multiple low-power netbook processors) reducing power consumption and carbon emissions.

Keep your hands on the wheel

A system for in-car "infotainment" called Commute UX uses a set of spoken language technologies to enable drivers to interact with their devices and information more naturally, while new spatialisation and echo cancelling tech is aimed at improving the teleconferencing experience.

We like the sound of Sticky Notes in Augmented Reality, a showcase of new ways for people to use the physical space around them to interact with the digital information and media they "really care about".

Even more intriguing is Situated Interaction, a project that weaves together multiple sensing, learning and reasoning components to create conversational systems that help with everyday tasks and activities and could even replace human personal assistants or receptionists.

Addressing attendees at TechFest, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, said: "Conducting basic and applied research is part of Microsoft's DNA. More than ever we're committed to this investment, enabling our researchers and developers to continue advancing technology for challenging societal problems and pushing the boundaries of computing in exciting ways."

Stay tuned for more TechFest news...

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.