Posted by Rob Knies

D.C. TechFair 2013

It’s not often that people get a chance to peek into the future, but that will be the case May 21 in Washington, D.C., when Microsoft Research hosts its biennial D.C. TechFair.

During an afternoon open house held at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in downtown Washington, customers, academia, and governmental officials will get an opportunity to explore the trends and technologies Microsoft Research expects to change the face of computing.

“At Microsoft, investing in research and development are top priorities as we continue to spark American innovation while creating the jobs and technologies of the future,” says Fred Humphries, Microsoft vice president of U.S. Government Affairs. “From pushing the boundaries of computing beyond the screen to helping make sense of large-scale data sets for scientific discoveries, we’re excited to share the latest innovations from Microsoft Research with the D.C. community at TechFair.”

World-class scientists from Microsoft Research will demonstrate how new discoveries in computer science and information technology are not only enhancing Microsoft products but also helping to overcome some of society’s biggest challenges.

Attendees of the TechFair will learn more about multiple ways researchers are tackling big-data problems to deliver powerful visual insights. Other research being shown encompasses projects that address challenges in education, health care, and the environment.

One of the research projects at the event literally brings a new dimension to the now-familiar touchscreen. Titled Actuated 3-D Display with Haptic Feedback, the project builds on the touch experience enabled on flat, 2-D surfaces by introducing pressure sensitivity to enable interaction of 3-D environments.

A second TechFair project, ViralSearch: Identifying and Visualizing Viral Content, explains work done at Microsoft Research New York City to develop a quantitative notion of what it means when something on social media “goes viral”—and enables visitors to explore how such incidents are diffused across the web.

Other demonstrations on display during the 2013 D.C. TechFair:

  • Automated Problem Generation for Education: How intelligent tutoring systems can enhance the educational experience, in the classroom and online.
  • Geo-Database Applications at the Speed of Thought: A SQL Server 2013 application that enables anyone to explore global biodiversity, protected areas, and threat databases in real time.
  • Kinect Fusion: A 3-D surface-reconstruction technology that enables quick, affordable, easy creation of accurate 3-D renderings of people and objects.
  • Project “GeoFlow” for Excel: Enables the visual display of geographic and temporal data in 3-D and the creation of “tours” of the data that can be shared with others.
  • Real-Time, 3-D Scene Capture and Reconstruction: A novel method for capturing and reconstructing dynamic, 3-D scenes in real time.
  • SandDance: A web-based visualization system that exploits 3-D hardware acceleration to explore relationships between hundreds of thousands of items.
  • SketchInsight: Telling Stories with Data via Freeform Sketching: A novel way of telling a story using interactive information-visualization techniques to create personalized, expressive data charts quickly and easily.

Also in the District of Columbia on May 21, Peter Lee, Microsoft corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Research USA, will be participating in a panel  Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The session, IT for People, Homes, and Cities, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) and U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.). Other panel participants are Steven E. Koonin, director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University, and Shwetak N. Patel, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington.

During the session, sponsored by the Computing Research Association, the panelists will discuss their visions for the next generation of new products, user experiences, and technological insights, and they will delve into the IT innovation ecosystem; the role of computing research in industry, academia, and government; and the potential societal value and economic impact of emerging research discoveries.

It will be a full day of activity in D.C., one that is sure to be educational and fascinating all around.