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We get a lot of questions about what Microsoft does with the more than $9 billion we invest in R&D every year. There’s a lot of research for sure, but most of that investment goes toward development. With 850 Ph.D.-level researchers in Microsoft Research and around 40,000 developers in our product teams, that should give an indication of how we balance that $9 billion between research and the development of shipping products. I call it small r and big D.
Of course, research doesn’t just magically find its way into development. Every year we deliberately foster the connection between research and product development through Microsoft Research TechFest, three days of Microsoft Research teams showing the rest of the company their latest discoveries. Tomorrow is TechFest Public Day, when we invite a select group of academics and other guests to see some of the projects and learn about the revolutionary technologies that are coming out in the not-too-distant future.
This year a lot of the demonstrations and exhibits focus on Natural User Interfaces (NUIs) — a topic I’ve touched on several times on this blog. We believe NUIs are ushering in an era where computers are becoming more like us, and during TechFest attendees will see demonstrations of projects such as multitouch sensing on a digital pen; 3-D scanning with a regular camera; face recognition in video; and a project titled MirageBlocks that instantaneously digitizes any object into 3-D using a Kinect sensor and 3-D projector. Over the next three days, we’ll be showing you glimpses of TechFest with videos, photos and more at http://research.microsoft.com and on Next at Microsoft.
Outside TechFest, we’ve been busy undertaking technology transfer in a wide variety of ways. Some observers have questioned how much of our research is transferred into products, and wondered if we’re getting a significant return on our investment. We’re confident that we are, and although it may not always be obvious, almost every product we ship has contributions from Microsoft Research included.
Some recent examples include:
Posted by Steve ClaytonEditor, Next at Microsoft Blog