This edition of Weekend Reading features three stories in which Microsoft Research played a significant role – the “Kinect Effect,” the DREAM controller and PreHeat. We’ve also got stories on Windows Phone, Bing and Hotmail. Don’t miss ‘em!

Feeling the “Kinect Effect”. In the year since Microsoft launched the controller-free Kinect for Xbox 360, the device has taken on a life of its own. First, Kinect became the fastest-selling consumer device in history, and then it started showing up outside the living room in healthcare, education and technology. For more on this story, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center, this Monday post on The Official Microsoft Blog and this Monday post on the Next at Microsoft Blog, which focuses on the role Microsoft Research played in the device’s development. Below, Student Alex Wiggins gestures to Kinect, which in turn lifts a remote-control toy helicopter while teammates Ruma Paul (left) and Fabio Matsui (right) look on. The trio was using the new Kinect for Windows SDK beta during Code Camp on Microsoft’s Redmond Campus.

06-16-11KinectSDK_page

Bing for Mobile goes HTML5. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced the next step in the evolution of Bing for Mobile, with the release of the new Bing for Mobile app for iPhone and Android (coming soon to more devices). The update uses HTML5 to blend the mobile browse experience with the app experience so you get a consistent and fast mobile search experience whether you’re using m.bing.com from your browser or the Bing app. Read this Wednesday post on the Bing Search Blog for more detail. And just in case you missed it, be sure to read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center, which profiles three members of Bing’s social search team.

I, robot. On Thursday, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton reported on the DREAM controller, a search and rescue technology developed by the robotics lab at the University of Massachusetts (in conjunction with Microsoft Research.) Clayton describes the DREAM controller as “a terrific NUI application - one that's cohesive, useful and that gives search and rescue planners a more viable option for gathering intelligence when situations on the ground are otherwise unsafe.” Clayton’s post also features a two-minute video from MSR.

Hotmail on 2 million iOS 5 devices, and growing. Hotmail is the world’s leading e-mail service, and last year we added support for Exchange Active Sync, allowing customers around the world to sync their Hotmail inbox, calendar, and contacts to their mobile phones through the power of Exchange. Although we’ve had this support for a year already, with the release of iOS 5 it is now even easier to set up Hotmail on your iPhone or iPad. Want more detail? Read this Wednesday post on the Inside Windows Live Blog.

LOTS of Windows Phone news this week (and next!) If you live in or around New York City, you might want to find an excuse to wander past Herald Square sometime during the day next Monday—noon would be an especially good time—for a fun surprise we’re putting together. All we can say is we’re bringing Windows Phone to life in a big, big, way. Also, lots of news on the app front recently, including a new Seattle Sounders FC app (tough loss to Real Salt Lake earlier this week, but there’s always next year, Sounders fans), Kinectimals and Orbital and Marketplace Extra. Check ‘em all out!

New from Microsoft Research: Controlling home heating using occupancy prediction. Microsoft Research recently showcased a project called PreHeat, which is designed to save energy by automatically controlling a home’s thermostat based on predictions of when the occupants will be home. In the U.S. and United Kingdom., home heating uses more energy than any other residential energy expenditure. In the U.S., fewer than half the houses have programmable thermostats, and many of those are used as a manual on/off switches for the furnace. Read this Monday post on the Software Enabled Earth Blog for the rest of the story. 

That’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for stopping  by!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog