18 Extraordinary Research Project by Microsoft

Many giant tech companies are working on advanced and innovative project that can completely change the future. Most of these projects have nothing to do with the company’s commercial product, still for the sake of innovation, creativity and intent to change the world, these projects are going on. Some of these research works are hidden to the outside world and some are publicly known.

These days, the most famous secret lab is Google X because of some remarkable projects such as driveless car, Google glasses, project green and many more. That doesn’t mean other companies are not involved in any major research activities. The fact is people don’t know much about any research project other than Google. That’s why we have made a list that will highlight some extraordinary research project by a software giant company, Microsoft. This list will tell you about future technologies as well as how big and innovative Microsoft is.

All projects are under development stage

18. Project Premonition

Project PremonitionCourtesy: Microsoft

The researchers at Microsoft are developing autonomous drones that aim to detect infectious disease outbreaks before they spread.  It’s kind of a new mosquito trap that uses less energy and relies on lighter weight batteries. It will collect mosquitoes to look for early signs of harmful virus, with the goal of preventing disease outbreak in humans like avian flu, dengue before it occurs.

The collected mosquitoes will be analyzed for microbes and viruses that could pose threats to humans. Researchers can then store information in cloud based databases, and come up with algorithms that could evaluate which virus is most dangerous or needs quick actions.

17. PixelSense

PixelSenseImage credit: youtube

Microsoft PixelSense (also known as Surface) allows one or more users (up to 50) touch and share digital content at the same time. The surface recognizes hands, fingers and any objects placed on the screen. It also allows vision based interaction without the use of camera hardware.
Currently, this technology is available in Samsung SUR40 display which can be fixed on the wall, table or any furniture. It will cost you around $8500.

16. Skype Voice Translator

Microsoft has been working on speech translation for almost 10 years. They have developed a real time translator (using deep neural network for acoustic modeling in speech recognition) that allows you to talk in native language to people who speak different language. There is no time barrier/lag between the communication. Imagine you speak in Spanish and your voice automatically getting converted into English. This is going to be the revolutionary project that will connect the whole world. This machine translator is expected to release before end of 2014 or early in 2015.

15. IllumiRoom

IllumiRoom is an augmented reality, peripheral projection technology that augments the area around the TV screen to increase the engrossment in the movie or game you are playing. It uses Kinect sensor and a video projector. Kinect sensor traces the geometry and color of surrounding area of TV and projector displays the video around the screen. The best way to learn more about this technology is, watch and experience the above video. Moreover, this video doesn’t have any edited special effects.

14. HoloDesk

HoloDesk is a situated see-through display that allows users to directly interact with 3d graphics. The whole system consists of a screen, beamsplitter, web cam and Kinect. This technology allows you to put your hand into the virtual display and directly interact with spatially align 3d virtual world, without any wearable hardware. The Kinect is used to track rigid and non-rigid physical object data.

13. TouchWall

TouchWallImage credit: youtube

Microsoft researchers have discovered a way to turn any wall into touch sensitive surface using electromagnetic radiation generated by power lines to WiFi transmitter. The first version of this technology was launched in 2008, called TouchWall. It uses 3 infrared sensors and a camera to scan and detect inputs. This technology was never intended to release commercially but the same idea is being used to develop gesture based interfaces. This will allow you to switch off the lights, change room temperature, and adjust TV volume with a gesture. Microsoft wants to provide all this in affordable price.

12. LucidTouch

In all touchscreen devices, it’s only the front surface/screen that takes input through your finger. Now imagine what if you could touch the screen from the back panel. Microsoft introduced this idea back in 2007. LucidTouch allows you to control the application or device by touching at the back of the device. It uses a pseudo transparency concept in which fingers are projected as shadow while using the back screen. Moreover, it supports multitouch input (up to 10 fingers) which lets you touch, type and play without tapping the front screen.

11. See-through 3d Display

See-through 3d DisplayImage credit: youtube

Right now, we all use desktop in the same way: we’ve got a screen, keyboard and mouse to interact. Now imagine these components in a slightly different way: a keyboard behind the screen. Microsoft researchers Cati Boulanger and Jinha Lee have developed a prototype called See-through 3d display where users can interact with objects in virtual 3d space behind the screen. The system uses a transparent display with 3d technology and gesture recognition. A front facing camera tracks the user’s head so that the computer’s virtual display could be adjusted accordingly.

10. Pictionaire

PictionaireImage credit: youtube

Pictionaire is a touchscreen table that makes digital copies of physical objects without taking too much time. It uses a DSLR to recognize and trace the size and shape of the object placed on the table. Users can create digital copies of physical components with a drag of gesture. Image capture and projection also enables spotlight highlighting on physical objects. Overall, this is a pretty cool concept that allows you to manipulate simple 3d object virtually.

9. PocketTouch

PocketTouchImage source: youtube

PocketTouch enables mutitouch input on a handheld device without removing the device from pocket, purse or bag. It’s a capacitive sensing prototype that works through the fabric. The prototype consists of custom capacitive sensors mounted on back side of the smartphone. That means, if you are in a crowded area, you could change the song, lock the screen or even send the alphanumeric messages without taking it out of the pocket.

8. IllumiShare

IllumiShare enables remote users to share any digital or physical object on any surface. It’s a low cost peripheral device that lights up a specific portion of the surface and turns it into a sharing space. The whole system uses a camera projector pair where the camera captures the video and sends it to the remote workspace and the projector projects the video of remote workspace onto the local surface. To understand better, you can see the video where two users are playing card game from different places, illustrating this technology.

7. WorldWide Telescope

WorldWide telescopeImage source: wwt

WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a computer program developed by Microsoft. The project was announced at the TED conference in February 2008. It is used to explore the universe in 3d and allows you to access terabytes of earth, sky and other planet data. This is currently the best software to experience the 3d solar system with asteroids, moon orbits and much more. Also it enables you to travel 2,000 years backwards and forwards in time.

6. Photosynth 3D

The Photosynth project was started a decade ago and the aim is to reinvent the entire enterprise of photography. The new version of Photosynth 3d can take hundreds or thousands of images and turn them into a 4 different 3d views: Wall, Walk, Panorama and Spin. Rather than just zooming or panning into a 2d plane, you can now move into the space within pictures. The 3d parallax effect creates the illusion that feels like you are actually there. The tool enables users to view and generate their own model.

Also Read: 15+ Best Camera App for Android

5. HomeOS

HomeOsImage credit: microsoft

A few big companies like Apple, Google are working on Home Automated System, then how could Microsoft step back. Microsoft researchers are working on HomeOS since 2010. The aim is to develop a centralized control of all devices in the home. HomeOS is integrated with HomeStore through which users can download/extract home related application just like playstore for android. Currently, HomeOS supports various ranges of devices including security cameras, switches and TV. The system has been already installed in few homes for testing purpose.

4. The Prediction Lab

Prediction lab

Recently, Microsoft opened a prediction lab with an aim: predict the future. The project started off as a fun and now it became a serious reality. It includes a website that conduct polling which is meant to predict the upcoming events. Rather than just a traditional method of voting they are instead interested in how different people thinks. The idea is to collect the data quickly and update it as soon as possible. It’s really a strange practice and there is not guarantee that method will continue to work correctly, still Microsoft wants to try it out.

3. Holoflector

Holoflector is an interactive augmented reality mirror developed by Microsoft Research. It uses a mirror, Kinect, large LCD and a Windows smartphone sensor to create an augmented reality display. The technology is much more than just rendering graphics in the real world as it also allows users to interact with virtual display. This shows how you can use the smartphone in a complimentary way for communication in the future.

2. Robot Touch Screen

There is nothing new in the touchscreen technology but what if you could feel the pressure (force) while touching the screen. Microsoft is developing a screen (with 1d robotic system attached behind the display) that pushes back with a pressure that reflects the physical property of the virtual object displayed on the screen. For example, if you are touching any liquid, the screen would move back easily and if there is a hard rock you need to apply force with your finger to push the screen. That means the screen can reflect the same kind of feeling. Microsoft demonstrated this technology using a CT brain scan, in which touchscreen lets you palpate a brain.

1. Robotic Receptionist

Robotic ReceptionistImage source: dvice, siliconrepublic

Recommended: The Unbelievable Google’s Future Projects

All women doing a receptionist job; be aware. Microsoft is working to replace you with a robot. The company is working on a software based robot design which could handle all basic tasks of a receptionist. It consists of face and voice recognition software and will reply to the user in a synthesized voice. The system could categorize the employees based on their dresses and alter its behavior accordingly. For example, a person with a casual dress will be treated as an employee, whereas a person with suit would be considered a higher authority. Along with the dress, the person will be recognized by face, voice or id.

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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  • Aw, no mention of Courier?