Microsoft Research Techfest

Microsoft Research Techfest

Microsoft TechFest

Every year, Microsoft gets it’s researchers to share what they’ve been thinking about at a little techfest. In the past it’s been a relatively closed event, but this time they invited lots of press and bloggers to come a day early and check it out. Brady and I headed over to Redmond to check it out and report back. Pictured above is a camera rig set up to take around 800 pictures with a long lens and then stitch them all together to make an approximately 4 gigabyte image that you can zoom in on!

There are a lot of interesting boundaries that are being pushed over at MSR and I documented some that I thought would be interesting to makers.

You know those “captcha” things where you have to put some letters in a box to validate a comment and prove you aren’t a robot? Well, the folks over at Microsoft Research found that telling the difference between cats and dogs is something that is hard for a robot/spambot to do. This group set up a way of verifying humanity by posting pictures of cats and dogs that are actually up for adoption, like this one which is available from the humane society! You look at a page of picures and have to choose which photos are cats to prove you’re human! Link

Microsoft TechFest

Surface computing pairs a projector with a camera to detect physical objects in real space and have them interact. It’s kinda like the GRL drawing on buildings thing. There is a little video game car projected on the table and the paper sculptures are being seen by the camera and imported into the computer so that the car encounters them as hills in the virtual space.

Microsoft TechFest

In the housing of the future section of techfest were some clever little doo-dads. Pictured above is a mirror with a screen behind it. There’s a webcam embedded in it that takes your picture and when you spin the leaf-wheel, it shows both recently taken pictures and pictures from the past! It’s a cool little contraption.


Also in the house of the future was a little machine that prints out labels for your calendar. You sms it your date and event and it prints out a sticker for you to keep you on track… Who doesn’t need this now?

Answer Machine

This bubbleboard was also in the house of the future and shows your phone messages on a screen with the dates and time and pictures of who called. There’s also a little wipeboard area where you can leave notes about the calls.

Microsoft TechFest

This is a directional speaker setup that plays two directional audio tracks, you have to be in different spots to hear each one. The folks who made this promised to put up a howto on how you could make something like this at home!

You can go check out the msr research pages for more info and be sure to check out Brady’s blog entries over at the radar blog to learn more and you can see more photos from techfest in my flickr set – link

4 thoughts on “Microsoft Research Techfest

  1. Shadyman says:

    Uh, hate to break it to the MS gang, but KittenAuth has been around for a while.

  2. monopole says:

    Gee, a panoramic cam using a Meade Goto Mount. Why didn’t I think of that! oh yeah, I did!

    This is the best the “successor” to Bell Labs and PARC can do?

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