Microsoft Research Struts Stuff
Microsoft Research has gotten many a bum rap from the business press. Journos
who are fixated on stock prices and product launches just don't understand why
Redmond would invest billions researching "a best-first alignment algorithm
for automatic extraction of transfer mappings from bilingual corpora" or
do a "comparative study of discriminative methods for re-ranking LVCSR
N-best hypotheses in domain adaptation and generalization." (When you put
it that way, I'm not so sure either!)
The real knock is that the billions spent on research don't magically turn
into stock price-raising products.
And that's the point: Microsoft doesn't restrict its research to things that
make money. It's interested in advancing the state-of-the-art in computer science.
But there are projects that could become products, and every so often Microsoft
shows them off. At the recent Computer/Human Interaction 2007 Conference, Microsoft
off a few cool projects, including Shift, a tool that lets you use your
finger as a stylus for a mobile device. It also talked about two projects that
bring users and customers into the product design phase.
Most intriguing to me is: "Do Life-Logging Technologies Support Memory
for the Past? An Experimental Study Using SenseCam." The idea here is for
people to wear a camera throughout their lives. The question is whether going
back to actual images from the past changes how one remembers them.
This question is mildly intriguing, but the very idea of constantly wearing
a camera and archiving all the footage is what really gets my wheels turning.
If only O.J. had been wearing one of these on June 12, 1994!
Posted by Doug Barney on 05/03/2007 at 1:15 PM