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Latin American Faculty Summit 2014
May 7–9, 2014 | Viña del Mar, Chile

Booth 1: Uses of Kinect for Research and Teaching at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

Presenter: Pablo Figueroa

We present our research in the design of better patient rooms at our hospital, and how we are creating a virtual Kinect lab so that students will be able to learn, remotely, how to program Kinect applications in several regions of our country.

Booth 2: Samaritan: Assisting Users in Time-Critical Need

Presenter: Nina Mishra

Examination of mobile search logs reveals that search engines are being used in time-critical situations, often in cases more appropriately handled by emergency services. For instance, we find queries such as “how to do CPR on a toddler” and “am I having a stroke.” Search engines today do not provide any specific assistance for users in this state. Content from domains such as Wikipedia and Mayo Clinic are currently favored. Such pages are more suitable in information-seeking settings, and not urgent settings. We demonstrate how a mobile phone can assist in real-time learning of life-saving procedures.

Booth 3: Collaborative and Interactive Games

Presenter: Miguel Nussbaum

Demos from the talk: Educational Games and the Design Based Research Approach

Booth 4: Massively Empowered Classroom—a blended learning experiment by Microsoft Research India

Presenter: Siddharth Prakash

While traditional MOOCs are gaining popularity and getting lot of attention, much can be done in the classroom by using technology to enable better delivery and engagement. Massively Empowered Classroom (MEC) is a project/experiment deployed by Microsoft Research India that is designed to bring the highest quality classroom material to every undergraduate engineering student in India and similar markets. In addition to top quality content, MEC also provides the platform and tools for teachers/instructors to use this content in their regular teaching activities.

With more than 10,000 current users across eight different universities, MEC provides a platform and an opportunity for researchers to gain a better understanding of the future of online education.

Booth 5: ChronoZoom

Presenter: Roy Zimmermann

The history of everything: Chart it, share it, and teach it with ChronoZoom. This free, open-source tool allows historians, teachers, and students to explore history and create interactive timelines that provide different perspectives on history. You can browse through history and examine historical data, including text, images, video, and audio.

Booth 6: Meet Office Mix: Microsoft's Bet to Democratize Blended Learning

Presenter: Vidya Natampally

Learn about Microsoft’s vision for blended learning and see how the newly-announced Office Mix makes it easy to take your PowerPoint presentations and bring them to life as interactive online lessons. From recording audio or video of yourself giving a lecture, to directly writing in the presentation as you would at your whiteboard, to quizzing, to sharing, to seeing how it all worked - Office Mix helps you do it all simply.

Booth 7: Touch Develop: Create Rich Mobile Cloud Apps on Your Device

Presenters: Michal Moskal and Peli de Halleux

We are experiencing a technology shift: powerful and easy-to-use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent than traditional PCs and laptops. Mobile devices are going to be the first and possibly the only computing devices that virtually all people will own and carry with them at all times. In this session, we will show how anyone can develop software directly on their mobile devices. We have created TouchDevelop, a modern software development environment that embraces the new reality of cloud-connected mobile devices.

TouchDevelop comes with typed, structured programming language that is built around the idea of using a touchscreen as the input device to author code. Access to the cloud, flexible user interfaces, and access to sensors such as accelerometer and GPS are easily available. In our experience, TouchDevelop is well suited for education, as mobile devices engage students, and the programming environment focuses on core programming tasks supported by interactive tutorials. TouchDevelop is available as a web app on Windows tablets, iOS, Android, Windows-based PCs, Macs, and as a native app on Windows Phone.

Booth 8: CodaLab

Presenter: Christophe Poulain

CodaLab is an open-source web-based platform that enables people to share code and data in order to advance the state of the art in research fields where Machine Learning is used. CodaLab focuses on:

  • Reducing the amount of time that researchers spend on preprocessing datasets, writing evaluation or visualization scripts, and getting other people’s code to run
  • Reducing duplicated efforts across different groups
  • Enabling the creation of competitions to help focus the community on areas needing benchmarking or better methods

CodaLab helps solve these problems by creating an online community where people share worksheets or participate in competitions. CodaLab Worksheets lower the barrier to documenting and publishing detailed experiments, streamlining the research and learning process. CodaLab nurtures an environment of scientific rigor by enabling reproducibility and transparency, and it opens new avenues for collaboration between researchers, developers, and data scientists.

Booth 9: Weather Research Forecast Service on Microsoft Azure

Presenter: Tanya Berger-Wolf

Microsoft Azure Cloud has become a mature business cloud platform in the last two years. While web 2.0 companies enjoy the benefits of cloud on Microsoft Azure, the general research and scientific computing communities are just getting familiar with the platform. With the availability of IAAS Linux, Hadoop, IPython Notebooks, F#, Microsoft's Cloud Platform offers researchers the convenience to collaborate, and share their research online better. In this demo, we’ll walk through and discuss how we have turned National Weather Service modeling Code WRF containing groups of complex tools into an always-on, scalable Cloud Service using Microsoft Azure.

Booth 10: Airplanes Aloft as a Sensor Network for Wind Forecasting

Presenter: Ashish Kapoor

We explore the feasibility of using commercial aircraft as sensors for observing weather phenomena at a continental scale. We focus specifically on the problem of wind forecasting and explore the use of machine learning and inference methods to harness air and ground speeds reported by aircraft at different locations and altitudes. We validate the learned predictive model with a field study where we release an instrumented high-altitude balloon and compare the predicted trajectory with the sensed winds. The experiments show the promise of using airplane in flight as a large-scale sensor network. Beyond making predictions, we explore the guidance of sensing with value-of-information analyses, where we consider uncertainties and needs of sets of routes and maximize information value in light of the costs of acquiring data from airplanes. The methods can be used to select ideal subsets of planes to serve as sensors and also to evaluate the value of requesting shifts in trajectories of flights for sensing.

Booth 11: Lab of Things

Presenters: Arjmand Samuel and Ratul Mahajan

Lab of Things (LoT) is a flexible platform for research that uses connected devices in homes. Built on the HomeOS software platform, Lab of Things provides a common framework to write applications. Its capabilities are beneficial to field deployments, including logging application data from houses in cloud storage, remote monitoring of system health, and remote updating of applications, if needed (for example, to change to a new phase of the study by enabling new software or to fix bugs). LoT enables:

  • Researchers to easily interconnect devices and implement application scenarios.
  • Field studies at scale through cloud services that can monitor and update experiments, and provide easy access to collected data 
  • Researchers to share data, code, and participants, lowering the barrier to evaluating ideas in a diverse range of settings

Booth 12: LiveANDES: Citizen-Science Tool for Preserving Wildlife Diversity in Latin America

Presenters: Andres Neyem, Robert Petitpas, and Cristhian López

LiveANDES (Advanced Network for the Distribution of Endangered Species) is a software platform that provides a fresh approach for researchers and citizen scientists for preserving wildlife diversity in Latin America. This platform allows users to map the distribution of endangered species by ecosystems, biomes, countries, regions, protected zones, and customized study areas. LiveANDES makes it easy for users to upload sightings and share information, employing web-map visualizations to allow open access to biodiversity data.

Booth 13: A Virtual Reality Experience Using WorldWide Telescope

Presenter: Doug Roberts

WorldWide Telescope brings rich, layered data to a variety of display devices, from the smallest smartphone to the largest planetarium dome. In this demo, you can experience WWT in a new way using the Oculus Rift, a head-mounted virtual reality device. The experience will take you on a tour of the International Space Station (ISS), as well as realistic flights over amazing impact craters on various bodies of our Solar System. WorldWide Telescope along with the head-mounted display allows you to use your body and head to look around the computer-generated, virtual environment. This demo is the evolution of one that was presented at the latest TED conference in Vancouver in March.

Booth 14: SandDance: Natural Particle Based Information Visualization

Presenter: Steven Drucker

SandDance is a particle-based visualization for exploration and presentation. Each point of data is represented as a particle. Particles smoothly animate from one view to the next, and selected particles maintain their highlights between views. Multiple linked views allow for associations between the same particles in each view. Using principles of information visualization, users can map any attribute into the position, color, size, opacity, and layout of a dataset to help reveal distinct patterns within the data.

Event sponsors

Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Turismo

Microsoft Research

Map of DemoFest booths

Map of DemoFest booths

Map legend




Uses of Kinect for Research and Teaching at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia


Samaritan: Assisting Users in Time-Critical Need


Collaborative and Interactive Games


Massively Empowered Classroom—a blended learning experiment by Microsoft Research India




Meet Office Mix: Microsoft's Bet to Democratize Blended Learning


Touch Develop: Create Rich Mobile Cloud Apps on Your Device




Weather Research Forecast Service on Microsoft Azure


Airplanes Aloft as a Sensor Network for Wind Forecasting


Lab of Things


LiveANDES: Citizen-Science Tool for Preserving Wildlife Diversity in Latin America


A Virtual Reality Experience Using WorldWide Telescope


SandDance: Natural Particle Based Information Visualization