Tag Archives: microsoft research

Microsoft Research Demoes 3D Face Scanning using only a Windows Phone

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Microsoft Research has demonstrated a technique to turn your smartphone into a high quality 3D scanner using a simple to use app and cloud processing.

The challenge was to make sure the users follow a prescribed pathway in moving their phones, and the team achieved this by visualizing a 3D sphere around the object (in this case a head) and providing visual feedback for the scanning user to follow.
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Microsoft notes the technolgy can be used to generate 3D models to support scenarios like AR furniture & space arrangement, e-commerce visualization, object recognition & search, etc. and then use these models in 3D printing.

See the video demo after the break.

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Microsoft also working on touch-less gestures for phones, tablets and TVs

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The Times of India reports that just like Nokia, Microsoft is also working on ‘no-touch’ technology for phones, tablets and TVs.

Rico Malvar, Microsoft’s chief scientist, said Microsoft is building an electronic bracelet that can detect movements in a person’s fingers, allowing them to imitate the actions of poking and flicking the screen to operate a device.

Users will be able to control a mobile phone with gestures even when it is in in their pocket, or a TV when their back is turned.

One can image the technology being integrated into a future Microsoft smartwatch.

Microsoft has also unveiled new ‘interactive displays’ which gives the illusion of a globe spinning or a dragon flying inches above a flat monitor. Cameras and motion sensors allow people to interact with these floating objects.

Another prototype allows someone sitting in front of a large screen to see a series of cubes. They can then slip their hands behind the device in order to ‘touch’ these objects.

Tim Large, a researcher from Microsoft Applied Sciences Group, said that final versions of these displays will be ready in two to five years.

Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz talks about AI, common sense and desiring your persona assistant

In the above video, speaking to the BBC, Microsoft Research Managing Director Eric Horvitz explains some of the challenges artificial intelligence researchers face in creating useful personal assistants.

"The ability of a system to understand more broadly what the overall context of a communication is turns out to be very important," he told the BBC.

His choice of words is interesting, as Windows Phone has long been expected to feature a Context Engine, a word which has also popped up recently in connection with the FourSquare investment, which is meant to provide data to Microsoft’s rumoured Cortana personal assistant.

"There are some critical signals in context. These include location, time of day, day of week, user patterns of behaviour, current modality – are you driving, are you walking, are you sitting, are you in your office. Are you in a place you are familiar with versus one you are not?

"A person’s calendar can be a very rich source of context, as is their email."

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Microsoft develops emotion-reading smart bra with Windows Phone app

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We know wearables are going to be the next big thing, but Microsoft Research has taken it to an entirely new direction.

Neowin reports that they have created a new bra laden with sensors which read things such as your heart rhythm,  skin conductance, and even movement via a 3 axis accelerometer and two axis gyroscope.

The data is then used to build up a picture of a users emotional state, after they spend some time calibrating it.

Data is transmitted via Bluetooth to a user’s smartphone, and from there to the cloud.

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Microsoft Research promises Machine Learning will be big in Windows Phone

Peter Lee 2010TechnologyReview spoke to Microsoft’s new head of research, Peter Lee, asking how they will help elevate Windows Phone to above its current niche status.

Lee was previously head of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University and currently managed more than 1,100 Microsoft researchers across 13 facilities.

He said Microsoft was committed to using the best best concepts in hardware, devices, and sensors in Windows Phones, and they wanted to give the user a more natural interaction, with a phone that is aware of what the user is doing. They were currently looking at new classes of sensors and even wearable computing.

“We have committed to bringing highly personalized machine learning technology into the phone,” he said.

Lee said Machine Learning was Microsoft Research’s number one investment.

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BLINK app gets a minor bug-fix, and Blink.so.cl is now open.

blinkqrMicrosoft has posted a minor updated their BLINK photo app, which takes a series of photos in quick succession and allows users to choose the best picture to save, to also publish the pictures as a brief animation.

Version 2.1  of the app features:

  • Camera settings – change camera settings such as scene mode, exposure, white balance and ISO in capture mode
  • Animation – Quickly set the motion range for animation in addition to selecting the best shot after capture
  • Sharing – Share the animations to BLINK.so.cl, Facebook, or Twitter
  • In-app viewing – View the animations in the in-app history, wait for a moment and they start animating!
  • Web gallery – From the in-app history, view your shared BLINKs in the web gallery
  • Save another – Your BLINKs are always saved within the app. Come back and save another shot to camera roll or change the animation range via "edit" in the in-app history

Sharing to www.so.cl/blink now works, and some pretty good examples of the craft can be seen there.

The app is free and can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.

See an example of a Blink after the break.

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Microsoft Research release Network Speed Test app

MRSTQrMicrosoft Research has released another Windows Phone app, this time to check the speed of your cellular and WIFI network.

The app measures both upload and download speeds and keeps a history of previous tests.  Microsoft is also using the app to collect anonymous data about network quality and availability at the same time, which may include location data if you agree.

The free app is Windows Phone 8-only and can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.

Microsoft Research release a BLINK update with video support

Microsoft has updated their BLINK photo app, which takes a series of photos in quick succession and allows users to choose the best picture to save, to also publish the pictures as a brief animation.

Version 2 of the app features:blinkqr

  • Camera settings – change camera settings such as scene mode, exposure, white balance and ISO in capture mode
  • Animation – Quickly set the motion range for animation in addition to selecting the best shot after capture
  • Sharing – Share the animations to BLINK.so.cl, Facebook, or Twitter
  • In-app viewing – View the animations in the in-app history, wait for a moment and they start animating!
  • Web gallery – From the in-app history, view your shared BLINKs in the web gallery
  • Save another – Your BLINKs are always saved within the app. Come back and save another shot to camera roll or change the animation range via "edit" in the in-app history

The app works as well as before, and you can now share your animations to BLINK.so.cl (which is not live yet), but I think Microsoft missed a trick by only letting users trim the animation, rather than more advanced editing of the resulting video.

The app is free and can be found in the Windows Phone Store here.

Via AAWP

Microsoft Research working on Zero-Effort mobile payment system

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Microsoft Research has published an article on a new seamless mobile payment system which utilizes mobile phones and a Kinect sensor, and would mean never having to reach into your pocket for either your wallet or phone.

The system is called Zero-Effort Payment and would uses unique identifiers in the phone’s Bluetooth stack to detect when a user signed up to the service has entered a shop, and a Kinect sensor with the face recognition system to  identify a customer that is waiting to pay.

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The system presents cashiers with a choice of four possible faces, displayed on a tablet housed near the till. They simply pick the right face when the customer is ready to pay.

The system then emails the customer with confirmation of the purchase, including a 10-second video, in case they wish to dispute the transaction.

According to Stefan Saroiu, from Microsoft Research, who developed the system alongside colleagues, ZEP would also allow retailers to deliver more personalised customer service, such as offering frequent buyer discounts, without forcing the customers to carry a loyalty card.

Microsoft has been testing the system at one of own cafeterias, as well as on a coffee stand at its TechFest conference.

“Across our two deployments, 274 customers made 705 purchases, and we received no complaints about the wrong customer being billed,” the researchers boasted.

Read more about the potential service in the Microsoft Research Paper here.

Via V3.co.uk

Microsoft Research develop new extremely low power GPS location system

imageMicrosoft Research has developed a way to off-load much of the workload of the GPS chips to the cloud, thereby making them much more energy efficient, and more suitable for continuous location tracking.

Jie Liu, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and his team developed a GPS system called CLEO, for Cultivating the Long tail in Environmental Observations,  that collects only a few milliseconds of the most crucial information from satellites. This data is then combined with other important information from public, online databases, such as satellite trajectories and Earth elevation values, to calculate the device’s past locations. The data fusion and location calculations happen on a remote server.

This reduces GPS power consumption from one that will drain a phone’s batteries in 6 hours to one that can run continuously for a year and a half on two AA batteries.

Liu believes that low-power GPS systems on mobile phones could make continuous location logging feasible, which could for example let you keep a  record of your driving habits or deliver search results based on your usual walking or driving directions.

“Those continuous location-sensing applications have a lot of value, and today we’re not doing that,” Liu says.

Read more at TechnologyReview.com here.

Via BGR

New Arc soft keyboard may be coming to Windows Phone 8

curvedy keyboard

More than a year ago we reported on Microsoft designing a “one handed and next gen soft keyboard” for Windows Phone 8.

We now have a picture of the keyboard in question, courtesy of a leaked Microsoft Research presentation.image

The keyboard is designed for one-handed thumb typing without having to look and features several keys clustered together, leveraging disambiguation to decide what word is in fact being typed.

The change would be Microsoft’s  most radical change to the Western SIP yet, and is reminiscent of the curved keyboards found in the old Microsoft UMPCs.

Apollo will also bring extended national Soft Keyboards including a new Korean design.

Seeing the keyboard demoed on a HTC Trophy of course also gives us hope this will in fact also be coming to Windows Phone 7.8.

Do our readers like the design? Let is know below.

Microsoft Research proposes mobile personalization platform

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Personalization and customization is a particular issue on Windows Phone 7, where the best users can do is arrange tiles and chose main and accent colours.

In a Microsoft Research paper recently published the researchers propose creating a background service on a Windows Phone which would collect information from sources such as Facebook, twitter and email to build up a broadstroked profile of a user, such as “business executive” or “soccer mum” which could then be presented to applications via an API, much like how the accent colours are being presented to apps at the moment, allowing them to customize their appearance, features and even advertising to users, without revealing actual details to the apps, and therefore still protecting the privacy of users.

Calling the service MoRePriv, the researches implemented the framework on top of Windows Phone 7, and note that it allowed apps to be personalized while effectively reducing the amount of privileges applications needed, thereby protecting the user.

Read their paper at Microsoft Research here.

We of course have no idea if this research will actually end up in the Windows Phone OS, but it would be an interesting way to allow more customization of Windows Phone while still keeping everything coherent.

Tip Tap Tones: Microsoft Research release a Mandarin teaching tool for Windows Phone

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Microsoft Research has released an interesting application designed to make it slightly easier to learn Mandarin.

Tip Tap Tones represents a new way to “sharpen your ears” and retrain your brain to identify the foreign sounds of Mandarin Chinese, in a game format that is challenging and enjoyable for learners of all levels.

Tip Tap Tones helps one to identify the sounds and tones of Mandarin Chinese.  In the game, you listen to a Mandarin sound before tapping the button representing the tone and syllable you thought you heard. The game begins with just a single syllable and four tone options, but as you progress by giving correct responses, the sounds get faster and the number of confusable syllables increases. By making you pay close attention to small differences between similar sounds, Tip Tap Tones gets you learning to listen just like a native speaker. image

The game should be an invaluable tool for anyone learning the Chinese Language.

Tip Tap Tones is free and can be found in Marketplace here.

Via MobilityDIgest.com