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Microsoft Research Latin American Faculty Summit 2011
Cartagena, Colombia | May 18–20, 2011

Booth #1: Microsoft Biology Foundation 2.0 Beta 1: Library and Tools

Michael Zyskowski—Senior Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

We will be showcasing the latest release (version 2.0) of the Microsoft Biology Foundation, beta 1. This version of the framework has been re-engineered to be more efficient and fast, supporting the De Novo and Comparative assembly of large genomes. The product is available freely as open source, licensed for both academic and commercial use.

Booth #2: MirageBlocks

Hrvoje Benko—Researcher, Microsoft Research, United States

We will demonstrate the use of 3-D projection, combined with a Kinect depth camera to capture and display 3-D objects. Any physical object brought into the demo can be digitized instantaneously and viewed in 3-D. For example, we will show a simple modeling application in which complex 3-D models can be constructed with just a few wooden blocks by digitizing and adding one block at a time. This setup also can be used in telepresence scenarios, in which what is real on your collaborator’s table is virtual—3-D projected—on yours, and vice versa. We will show how simulating real-world physics behaviors can be used to manipulate virtual 3-D objects. Our demo uses a 3-D projector with active shutter glasses.

Booth #3: Involving the Community in Creating High Quality Automatic Translations

Chris Wendt—Principal Group Program Manager, Microsoft Research, United States

This booth focuses on cross-language document retrieval and automatic translation, using the example of, an excellent implementation of multilingual access for the research community. We will demo mechanisms for community involvement that are able to push the quality of an automatic translation to a level that satisfies even the most demanding users, and how to make this a fun and compelling exercise.

Booth #4: Location-based Data Visualization and Interaction using Excel, Kinect and WorldWide Telescope

Dean Guo—Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

Kristin Tolle—Director, Natural User Interface, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

Earth science is highly dependent on data with a geospatial context. We have built out Worldwide Telescope (WWT) to support earth system science with emphasis on time series support and 3-D rendering. But a simple problem remains: How to get your data into the WWT Earth model and how to interact with it in an intuitive way? We are going to demonstrate a Microsoft Excel Add-in (a ribbon) to “push” location-based data into the WWT visualization environment and a method of interactions through gestures using a Kinect system. Suppose you have some spatial data that is time-tagged; so your minimum data set is a location (latitude, longitude) and a date. By installing the Excel Add-In for WWT you can simply highlight and “push” your data into WWT in a matter of seconds. Key features for Excel Add-in for WWT include:

  • Visualization of location-based point data and geometry data in WKT (well-known text) format
  • Dynamic binding of data in Excel to the visualization in WWT—changes to the data reflect immediately in WWT
  • Support for Earth-based visualization as well as sky-based visualization.

Booth #5: Try F# in a Browser

Christophe Poulain—Senior Research Software Design Engineer, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

Try F# enables the Microsoft .NET language, F#, to be used in an interactive browser-based environment. Try F# makes F# accessible to users with Windows, Macs, and soon Linux: no installation required! Try F# also includes an online training tool to introduce users to the language. The site also serves as a portal for information about the language and its growing community. Try F# was developed by Microsoft Research Connections Engineering and Computer Science teams, in collaboration with Microsoft Research Cambridge, and the Visual Studio F# development team.

Booth #6: Data-Driven Innovation via Web N-gram Services

Evelyne Viegas—Director, Semantic Computing, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

Data has become a first-class citizen in the digital world, and researchers worldwide need access to real-world large-scale data when performing data-driven research at web scale. With the Web N-gram services, Microsoft Research, in partnership with the Online Services Division, is enabling data-driven innovation via experimental design in the fast-paced arena of cloud-based computing while encouraging researchers to use the Windows Azure platform. We will present demos that use the Web N-Gram Services, including:

  • Search Query Segmentation (for example, Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley segmented into “Chateau Montelena” “in” “Napa Valley
  • Word Breaking Demonstration (for example, w84u word broken into “wait for you” in Twitter tags)

Booth #7: Digital Humanities and eHeritage Tools for Academics—New and Forthcoming Offerings from Microsoft Research

Lee Dirks—Director, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

In addition to a strong focus on eScience, Microsoft Research is also actively investigating the broader concept of eResearch—with an emphasis on Digital Humanities and eHeritage. This booth will offer demonstrations of several compelling new tools: discussion around Project Big Time (an evolution of the ChronoZoom work by Walter Alvarez at University of California, Berkeley), demos of the Digital Narratives work stemming from the Microsoft Research Lab in India, reference to the Garibaldi/LADS project under Andy van Dam at Brown University, and deep-dives into the Microsoft Academic Search service coming out of the Microsoft Research Asia lab in Beijing. The breadth of these projects shows the significant interest Microsoft Research is engaged in beyond eScience with a goal of positively impacting productivity and innovation across the entire academy.

Booth #8: Tools to Support e-Research: Zentity 2.0 and Active Text

Oscar Naim—Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections, United States

Zentity is a semantically enabled repository platform from Microsoft Research Connections that provides a suite of building blocks, tools, and services that help you create and maintain an organization digital library ecosystem. Zentity is built on top of Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft .NET 4.0, Entity Framework, and LINQ. Zentity uses Pivot Viewer from Microsoft Live Labs as its de facto browser; coupled with the Visual Explorer (a graph visualization tool from Microsoft Research Asia), it becomes a very powerful tool for unlocking the value of your data. Active Text is a tool for extracting and associating facts to a particular document. The Active Text project aims to support researchers in understanding concepts in a particular research area when entering a new field of study, using natural language processing (NLP), a novel user interface and information visualization.

Booth #9: Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer—A Platform for Rapid Prototyping

Nicolas Villar—Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge, United Kingdom

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is a rapid prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices. It combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of electronics by using a kit of hardware modules, and quick physical enclosure fabrication by using computer-aided design. Individual .NET Gadgeteer modules can be easily connected to construct both simple and sophisticated devices. Each module adds some extra capabilities, such as the ability to display images, play back sounds, take pictures, sense the environment, communicate with other devices, or enable user interaction. The platform is built on the .NET Micro Framework, which allows small devices to be programmed in the C# language and make use of Microsoft Visual Studio’s programming and debugging tools. This powerful combination allows fully functional devices to be prototyped in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks.

Booth #10: eScience in the Cloud at

Catharine van Ingen—Partner Architect, eScience Group, Microsoft Research, United States holds one of the largest shared carbon-climate research field datasets. The dataset is a living-breathing dataset—new data are being added and jointly curated. We will demonstrate the Microsoft SharePoint access portal as well as the behind-the-scenes database and cloud computing technologies that are used to support data upload, ingest, quality screening, early analysis browsing, and desktop download across remote sensing, sensor, and other hard won field measurements.

Booth #11: WikiBhasha—A Multilingual Content Creation Tool for Wikipedia

Vidya Natampally—Director, Strategy, Microsoft Research India

WikiBhasha is a multilingual content creation tool for Wikipedia. Developed by Microsoft Research, WikiBhasha beta enables Wikipedia users and contributors to explore and source content from English Wikipedia articles, to translate the content into a set of target languages, and to use the content with user additions and corrections for contribution to the target language Wikipedia. The content creation workflow is flexible enough to accommodate new content creation, at the same time preserving reusable information, such as references and templates.

Booth #12: Rich Interactive Narratives

Sridhar Vendantham—Head Communications and External Projects, Microsoft Research India

Recent advances in visualization technologies have spawned a potent brew of visually rich applications that enable exploration over potentially large, complex data sets. (Examples include, Microsoft Photosynth, PivotViewer, and WorldWide Telescope.) At the same time, the narrative remains a dominant form for generating emotionally captivating content—movies or novels—or imparting complex knowledge, as in textbooks or journals. The Rich Interactive Narratives project aims to combine the compelling, time-tested narrative elements of multimedia storytelling with the information-rich, exploratory nature of the latest generation of information-visualization and -exploration technologies. We approach the problem not as a one-off application, Internet site, or proprietary framework, but rather as a data model that transcends a particular platform or technology. This has the potential of enabling entirely new ways for creating, transforming, augmenting, and presenting rich interactive content.

Booth #13: Windows HPC Server and Windows Azure: Cluster and Cloud Computing Made Easy

Felipe Ayora—Program Manager, High Performance Computing Group, Microsoft, United States

Sean Mortazavi—Partner Architect, Technical Computing Group, Microsoft, United States

Come see a cloud-based implementation of NCBI’s Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) running on Windows Azure, which enables researchers to leverage the scalability of Windows Azure to execute BLAST jobs on demand in the cloud. We will also be showcasing Microsoft's third-generation, high-performance computing solution, Windows HPC Sever 2008 R2, which can readily expand your computing capabilities to the cloud.

Booth #14: Scientific Computing Using Windows Azure

Dr. Steven Johnston—Senior Research Fellow, Microsoft Institute for HPC, Computational Engineering and Design, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Prof. Simon Cox—Director, Microsoft Institute for HPC, Computational Engineering and Design, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

We are using World Wide Telescope (WWT) as the data visualizer for both the Clouds in Space and ASTRA projects. We will demonstrate the visualization of satellite trajectories as well as showing high altitude flight data collected from the ASTRA 7 flight 18km into the stratosphere. The Clouds in Space project provides a cloud based plug-in framework for satellite trajectory propagation and conjunction analysis and is aimed at improving Space Situational Awareness (SSA) by predicting potential satellite collisions. The Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft (ASTRA) project demonstrates the use of Windows Azure as a compute resource to compliment low powered high altitude scientific instrumentation.

Booth #15: Kinect Development Kit

Alex Acero—Research Area Manager, Microsoft Research, United States

We will show the Kinect for Windows software development kit together with an application that leverages speech and skeletal tracking.

Booth #16: RiSE4Fun: Research Tools for Serious Developers

Wolfram Schulte—Research Area Manager, Microsoft Research, United States

Try RiSE4fun—our tools in your browser! The  Microsoft Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group in Redmond, WA, United States, provides innovative tools for software development analytics, automated program analysis, new languages and runtimes, as well as automatic theorem provers.