Posted by Elizabeth Grossman, Technology Policy Group, Microsoft

Generic image

Many of the amazing capabilities of technology today are made possible by research done years ago, and innovations and impact sometimes result from unexpected combinations and outcomes at unexpected times. One example is Kinect for Xbox 360, for which decades of research by Microsoft and others on artificial intelligence, graphics, motion detection, and voice recognition made it possible for your voice and body to be the game controller.

Within Microsoft, we have made a sustained, 20-year investment in Microsoft Research. That organization’s more than 850 Ph.D.s, working in more than 55 research areas, thrive within the larger computing-research community, drawing collaborators, interns, and new hires from universities across the world.

Two recent events have given Microsoft a chance to communicate the importance of computing research in general and the interconnections of industry, government, and academia in this space.

  • On Feb. 14, Dr. Kathryn McKinley, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives during a hearing on Applications for Information Technology Research & Development. Her testimony highlighted key IT research challenges for the United States, such as the decrease in the rate of improvement in computer performance. She also described how U.S. computing-workforce demands are outpacing the supply and the particular challenges around women and under-represented minorities’ participation in these careers.
  • Also in February, Dr. Peter Lee, corporate vice president for Microsoft Research USA, published an article, Tiretracks to Innovation in Information Technology, in Computing Research News. This piece highlights the interplay between research in computing and the creation of technological, business, and social innovations. It inaugurates a series of articles that will tell various stories about how research evolves into new products and billion-dollar business sectors, from mobile communications to cloud computing.

Microsoft Research is grateful for these opportunities to demonstrate how computing research strengthens our economy, creates jobs, and enhances society and security—and to offer recommendations on critical research opportunities and ways to improve computing education.