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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
The launch of Windows 8 late last year provided developers with new opportunities to construct paradigm-shifting apps that can stand out in a busy application ecosystem via their ability to capitalize on touchscreen technologies.Such an evolution doesn’t come along too often in the software industry, and developers have responded in a big way. In its first two months, the Windows Store, which came online at the same time Windows 8 was offered for general availability, enticed visitors to download more than 100 million apps. The Windows Phone Store has surpassed 1 billion downloads. And computing usage of Windows Azure has doubled.This new direction for developing and delivering great ideas will gain even more momentum at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from June 26 to 28 when Microsoft hosts Build 2013, a chance for software engineers to witness presentations from the developers who produce the company’s products and services.
The changes wrought by technology in recent years is nothing short of astounding. First, music became digitized. Now, it’s video, in all its forms. That data can be stored, comfortably and effectively, in the cloud. And many of us walk around each day with little computers in our pockets.On these miniature marvels—known commonly, if not completely accurately, as “mobile phones”—we can achieve something humans have dreamed of for decades: the ability to call a loved one and actually see that person as we chat.That’s fantastic, right? Well, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet.On June 8, during the Science EXPO Day being held at Seattle Center as part of the Seattle Science Festival, Microsoft Research will be showing a half-dozen technology demonstrations designed to fire the imaginations of youths attending the event. And among them will be one that not only lets you see somebody as you hold a conversation, but also experience their presence in 3-D—while you talk.
There’s some cool news over at the Microsoft Translator/Bing Translator team blog: The announcement of new translation features, powered by Microsoft Translator, that now appear in the Twitter app for Windows Phone.The new functionality, announced June 27 during the Build 2013 developers conference being held in San Francisco, enables instant translation of tweets in a different language from that of the user.The translation technology is based on extensive machine-learning advancements from Microsoft Research.
Computing today is generating and capturing a wealth of data previously unimaginable. Such information has great promise for unlocking some of society’s most elusive secrets, but how can those secrets be unearthed and identified?That pursuit provided the impetus behind Big Data Analytics 2013, a first-ever workshop held at Microsoft Research Cambridge on May 23-24. More than 130 participants from academia and industry—including a strong contingent from the hosting lab, Microsoft Research Redmond, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, and Advanced Technology Labs Europe—gathered to discuss and identify the most important and challenging directions for the evolution of algorithms and systems for big data.“The organization of the workshop was prompted by a surge of interest and activity in the area of big-data analytics,” says Milan Vojnovic, co-organizer of the event and senior researcher in the Cambridge Systems and Networking group, “including platforms for various kinds of processing, such as batch processing and querying of massive data sets, real-time analytics, streaming computations, and analytics on special data structures such as graphical data.
You might not be aware of the term “continuous mobile vision,” but I’ll bet there’s a good chance you are aware of one of the scenarios it could enable.Remember the concept, bandied about in recent years, of technology that can remind you of a person’s name once her or his face has been detected? Yeah, that one. I’m sure that most of us could make use of it once in a while.The problem, though, is that image sensing takes lots of energy. That’s because modern image sensors lack energy proportionality. They’re power-hungry. That’s fine when a high-resolution, high-frame-rate image is desired. But even when you’re not seeking images of that quality, today’s image sensors still consume a lot of power.Someday soon, though, things could change for the better. That’s the premise behind the paper Energy Characterization and Optimization of Image Sensing Toward Continuous Mobile Vision, which has been accepted for presentation during MobiSys 2013, the 11th International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services, being held June 25-28 in Taipei, Taiwan.