Posted by Hsiao-Wuen Hon, managing director of Microsoft Research Asia

2011 year in review

As 2012 approaches, the directors of Microsoft Research facilities worldwide were offered an opportunity to discuss their labs’ 2011 accomplishments. This contribution, by Hsiao-Wuen Hon of Microsoft Research Asia, is the first of a series that will continue through New Year’s Eve.

Reflecting on Microsoft Research Asia’s accomplishments in 2011, many highlights come to mind.

First of all, I’m excited to see the success of Kinect and our lab’s continuing collaboration with product teams in advancing natural user interfaces through Kinect. In addition to the product’s use of the user-identification system we worked on, it was great to play with Avatar Kinect and object digitization in Kinect Fun Labs, knowing that the technology resulted from our strong partnership with the product team.

Thanks to contributions from the Microsoft Research Connections team in Beijing, along with researchers and developers, we reached another milestone in our eHeritage program with the donation of an Apsara gigapixel camera to the Dunhuang Museum.

To help celebrate Microsoft Research’s 20th anniversary, we announced the Tiger project, the result of years of close collaboration with the Bing product team. The project re-architected Bing’s index-serving platform to take full advantage of solid-state disks, resulting in 10s of millions of dollars in savings.

After winning the 2010 Wall Street Journal Asian Innovation Reader’s Choice Award, the Engkoo language-assistance project is being transferred to the Bing product team as the Bing Dictionary. It brings significant query traffic to Bing search in China. It is great to see that our research results are helping millions of users every day.

We also have published widely over the past year in many areas of computer science, winning best-paper awards in the field of networking—ServerSwitch: A Programmable and High Performance Platform for Data Center Networks, was named best paper of the eighth USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation—as well as in theory, data mining, and other areas. One of the most exciting parts of my job is to hear about projects from our researchers in many different areas and to learn how their work is advancing the state of the art. The results on publications and technology transfer are based on long-term research projects over many years. Over the coming years, we expect that we will have many more such long-term, cross-disciplinary successes.

Lastly, we moved into our brand-new office in the heart of Beijing’s Zhongguancun area, known as the “Silicon Valley of China,” in March. It has open spaces that enable even more communication and collaboration within the lab and with product teams. It is the permanent home for Microsoft Research Asia and close to top universities such as Tsinghua University and Peking University. We look forward to starting an exciting new year in our new home!