• Melding the Physical and the Virtual with Big Data

    Posted by Rob Knies

    TechFest 2013 logo

    Many businesses and individuals talk a mean game about how they’re changing the world, catering to customer demands, delivering bold new user experiences.

    And why not? It’s easy. Such claims rarely are held accountable. They’re easy to twist into whatever direction is most convenient.

    Talk is cheap—sometimes. But not always.

    I just had a most fascinating discussion with Dimitrios Lymberopoulos, a researcher in the Sensing and Energy Research Group at Microsoft Research Redmond. He’s at TechFest 2013 this week, discussing a project called Enabling Real-Time Business-Metadata Extraction, his focus for the last six months. I asked him a few questions about the project, and he responded in terms at once sincere, ingenious, and passionate.

  • Taking Science from the Specific to the General

    Posted by Rob Knies

    TechFest 2013 logo

    You might have heard of Drew Purves before. As head of the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, he has gained attention for a number of his projects, from modeling forest dynamics to FetchClimate, that use big data and build models to make predictions about future environmental conditions.

    He’s back at TechFest this year with a different kind of project. Called Predictive Decision-Making at the Speed of Thought, this effort provides the fundamental research needed to build predictive models for many different types of data, not just the environmental. The goal is to generalize the approach he has been pursuing to make such tools available to a broad range of organizations and businesses.

    “In the environmental sciences where we work, but also much more broadly, there’s a lot of demand for the pipeline that goes from big data through models to predictions of important things,” Purves explains. “We know, fundamentally, how to do that, but the technical barriers at the moment are so high that it’s the domain of specialist experts, which, in turn, means that it’s only the world’s largest organizations that can afford to support that kind of data-to-prediction pipeline.”

  • SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame Inducts danah boyd

    Posted by Rob Knies

    danah boyd

    It’s no surprise, really, that danah boyd, senior researcher at Microsoft Research New England, has been named the second inductee into the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival Hall of Fame.

    After all, boyd has established herself as one of the world’s leading lights when it comes to analysis of trends at the intersection of technology and society—especially when it comes to youth culture.

    The honor, presented March 12 during the SXSW Interactive Awards, is intended to recognize trendsetters whose career accomplishment s have paved the future of the new media industry.

  • H(app)athon Project: Smiles Sure to Ensue

    Posted by Rob Knies

    The H(app)athon Project logo

    What makes you happy? Mary Czerwinski is performing some research on that very topic.

    Czerwinski, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond and manager of the Visualization and Interaction for Business and Entertainment Research Group, is participating on the committee for The H(app)athon Project, a big-data effort to use happiness indicators to harness the power of emerging technologies to help the world measure happiness.

    Such indicators already are being used in Bhutan and the United Kingdom to measure the well-being of citizens. The project aims to connect the tools people use to measure themselves with metrics used to measure humanity, beginning March 20 in New York, London, and Tokyo with awareness events featuring presentations about the synergies between well-being, emerging technology, and happiness indicators.

  • The Big Game: Bay Area Research Competition

    Posted by Kelly Berschauer

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    The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has a history of conducting successful student competitions during its major conferences, so it was only fitting that when Microsoft Research Connections and Microsoft Research Silicon Valley were considering hosting a similar event in the latter’s Mountain View, Calif., facility focused on research, they should turn to the ACM model.

    The student research competition, hosted in conjunction with the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, based at the University of California, Berkeley, was held March 25 with the goal of connecting local students with local research organizations around the globe. Arjmand Samuel, senior research program manager for Microsoft Research Connections, indicated that he hopes the event serves as a precursor to a trend.