• Audio Advances Help Xbox One Determine Signal from Noise

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Xbox logo

    You might remember Ivan Tashev as the researcher behind the audio technology that helped to make Kinect for Xbox 360 such a marketplace sensation a couple of years ago. Now, with Xbox One headed for a Nov. 22 debut, Tashev, a principal software architect for Microsoft Research, is about to see his efforts with the Xbox team result in a new set of Kinect audio enhancements. This collaboration will extend the capability to control the console via voice command.

    “Everything is on a higher level,” Tashev says, “with tougher requirements, with way, way stronger criteria for release and for how the audio, the acoustics, and the entire audio system should work. We had a lot of work to do, and we improved the system a lot.”

    Tashev’s contributions are featured in the debut of the new Microsoft Research Luminaries video series on Channel 9, in which he describes what’s new with the Kinect’s audio performance.

  • Virtual Haircuts Go Mobile—in 3-D

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Innovation Day 2013 logo

    Three months ago, a post appeared in this space about a SIGGRAPH 2013 paper called Dynamic Hair Manipulation in Images and Videos, written in part by Lvdi Wang of Microsoft Research, along with a few academic collaborators. It was fun, fascinating work that enabled the creation of a 3-D hair model from a single photograph with just a bit of user interaction.

    In reality, this seemingly lighthearted project was based on some extremely challenging graphic manipulations required to present lifelike results. But it was hard to get past the project’s ability to let users take photos of themselves or others and try different, occasionally whimsical, hairstyles on for size.

    On Oct. 30, during Innovation Day 2013 at Microsoft Research Asia, Wang and colleague Fan Yan took things a step further, with a demo called Digital Barber: 3D Hair Manipulation on Mobile Phone.

  • 3-D Scanning Made Tangible for the Masses

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Innovation Day 2013 logo 

    In recent months, 3-D printing has leapt into the popular vernacular. Not that long ago, 3-D printers and the items they produce seemed little more than an unusual plaything for organizational use. Such printers were expensive, difficult to understand, and, for most people, simply inaccessible.

    No longer, though. Such printers have plummeted in price and mushroomed in popularity. The result is that what seemed a distant dream has suddenly become a tantalizing reality. The question for many quickly is morphing from “What could they do?” to “What can I do?”

    On Oct. 30, during Innovation Day 2013 at Microsoft Research Asia, answers to the latter inquiry began to take shape, thanks to a demo called 3-D Scanning with Mobile Devices.

  • Young Interns Spend Summer Translating Songs

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Song Translator interns (from left) Michelle Agcamaran, Kat Zhou, and Priya Ganesan

    So, how was your summer?

    For three Microsoft Research interns, that question has them singing a happy tune.

    The three—Michelle Agcamaran, Priya Ganesan, and Kat Zhou—spent the summer at Microsoft Research Redmond, working with mentor Alex Cheng. In doing so, they also stamped their names on a cool piece of technology. You can actually download the source code and play with it yourself.

  • Baym Tunes In to Social-Media Metrics

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Nancy Baym

    How many Likes have you received on Facebook lately? I’ll bet you have a pretty good idea (and that your overall assessment will be “not enough”).

    How many followers do you have on Twitter? You probably have a pretty good grasp of that number, too, don’t you?

    That’s understandable. Social media lends itself freely and easily to counting things, and if we start with no Likes and no followers, then each time our numbers lurch upward, we get a corresponding feeling of social success. Our popularity—or lack thereof—now comes with metrics, and they’re irresistible.

    But what, really, do they signify? That’s the discussion Nancy Baym of Microsoft Research wants to engender with her paper Data not seen: The uses and shortcomings of social media metrics, published Oct. 7 on First Monday, an openly accessible, peer-reviewed journal published on the Internet about the Internet.