• Combating the Chinglish Scourge

    Posted by Rob Knies

     Example of Chinglish

    “Carefully hits to the forehead” instead of "Watch your head"? Well, I’m sure I’ve written things like that on occasion myself, and perhaps you have, too. Still, it’s not exactly the king’s English, is it?

    In China, such usages are referred to as “Chinglish,” unfortunate turns of phrase created by translators whose eagerness to communicate across language barriers outstrips their abilities to do so (even if their English remains infinitely more adept than my Mandarin). At best, it can be a source of merrymaking; at worst, an embarrassment. What can be done?

    Matt Scott has a solution. Scott, senior development lead in the Innovation Engineering group at Microsoft Research Asia, is the project lead for Engkoo, a technology for exploring and learning language, and he has particular experience in trying to rid China of such aberrant coinages.

  • Projecting the Future of Interaction

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Interactive images projected onto a wall

    Imagine that you carry a small device that can make any nearby surface interactive—and that those surfaces can be manipulated via multitouch gestures and can store data.

    “Wouldn’t that be cool?”

    The enthusiasm belongs to David Molyneaux, and he is one of several Microsoft Research Cambridge researchers striving to bring this fanciful vision to reality, using interactive, environmentally aware projector systems embedded in handheld devices.

    “In the future,” Molyneaux predicts, “we will all have devices we carry around—maybe projectors integrated into mobile phones—that enable us to augment arbitrary surfaces and objects with digital content and relevant information. We will live in a 3-D ‘information space’ where objects, surfaces, and devices around us in the home or office can generate digital information or have it attached. These mobile devices will reveal this information and enable interaction with the information directly.”

  • Play a Game, Help a Researcher

    Project Waterloo

    Have you heard of Colonel Blotto? Me, neither—at least not until a few days ago, when I ran into my friend and colleague Thore Graepel  in the atrium of Building 99 on Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus, worldwide headquarters of Microsoft Research.

    Graepel was telling me about Project Waterloo, the initial effort from the nascent Research Games project at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Project Waterloo is a Facebook game designed in the Colonel Blotto style, which means that two players are asked to distribute a finite set of resources over a collection of geographies. The player who has distributed the most resources over each geography is the winner of that one, and the player who wins the most geographies wins the game.

    In the case of Project Waterloo, each player is allocated 100 “troops,” to be distributed over five “battlefields.” The player who wins the most battlefields wins the game.

  • Girl Scouts Honor Chayes

    Posted by Rob Knies

     Jennifer Tour Chayes

    This morning, at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, Jennifer Tour Chayes, Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England, became one of six recipients of the Leading Women Awards, bestowed by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

    “It’s a real honor,” Chayes said. “I’m flattered to be considered a role model for these incredible young women.”

    The awards ceremony, in its 20th year, is part of the celebration of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary.

    “Each year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts honors select female leaders who have made a positive impact in their career and community,” said Ruth N. Bramson, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “The Leading Women Awards is a way for our girls to meet great role models like Jennifer and for our supporters to learn how the Girl Scouts organization is creating future women leaders.”

  • Horvitz Joins American Academy of Arts and Sciences

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Eric Horvitz signs American Academy Book of Members

    In 1780, the nascent United States of America was still in the midst of the Revolutionary War. American pride suffused the former colonies’ scholar-patriots, and one result was the founding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Among the cofounders was John Adams, then a historian and political theorist who, 16 years later, became the second president of the United States. Adams’ role in helping to create the academy certainly didn’t escape the attention of Eric Horvitz, Microsoft distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond, who, in Cambridge, Mass., on Oct. 1, was inducted as one of the 179 of the nation’s most influential artists, scientists, scholars, authors, and institutional leaders in the academy’s 231st class of members.

    “I was delighted to be invited to join a society that was cofounded by John Adams, someone I’ve long admired,” said Horvitz, pictured above signing his name into the academy’s Book of Members, a tradition that began in 1780. “Just a few years after the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and several other founders of the United States created the society in recognition of the importance of nurturing and celebrating the arts and sciences in an open and vibrant society.”