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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
For more than half his life, Kevin Schofield of Microsoft Research has been an active participant in the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (SIGCHI). He’s a champion of the group’s research, and his contributions underscore the importance he places on volunteer work.In mid-February, though, he received a bit of unexpected SIGCHI news.“I got an email out of the blue,” he explains, “saying: ‘Congratulations! The SIGCHI awards committee has met and has decided to award you the SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award.’"
As “news” increasingly has morphed into “conversation” over the past decade, the blog has become one of the pre-eminent platforms fostering that discussion. It’s undeniably true, whether you’re examining political dynamics in Syria, college basketball tournaments in the United States, or the latest chartbuster from Adele. Whatever your interest, there’s a blog—or a dozen—to cater to it.That’s true in the world of computer-science research, too. Just ask Omer Reingold, principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley.Reingold’s interests focus on computer-science theory, and a couple of months ago, he and his lab colleagues were exploring the launching of a blog to test the theory waters. A handful of weeks later, they’re quite happy they did so, given the initial response to Windows on Theory.—a name chosen for its Microsoft connection, not because the blog is focused solely on the Windows operating system.
There is much discussion these days of the use of touch and multi-touch in interface design. But this week at Techfest, Helena Mentis and her teammates in the Socio-Digital Systems group in Microsoft Research Cambridge were showing two projects exploring interfaces where the intent is to avoid touch.
Perhaps it’s just me, but I wince whenever my American phone or GPS tries to pronounce a French restaurant name or a Spanish street name, or the name of one of my non-American friends. While we’ve made much progress in creating text-to-speech (TTS) systems with human-sounding voices in a comforting accent, they haven’t fared well in our multilingual world.
There are a lot of really cool projects at TechFest this year - if you pushed me to pick a personal favorite, I'd choose FetchClimate!. With amazing demonstrations such as Holoflector and Illumishare, this is one that you may not expect...allow me to explain why I'm so excited about FetchClimate!