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Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2006





Mobility Devices
At this booth, you can explore an assortment of devices powered by Windows Mobile 5.0. Mobility technology specialists will be on hand to answer questions you might have about mobile devices and wireless network technologies.


Tablet PC Devices
The Tablet PC is being heavily adopted by academia, as both a teaching and a note-taking tool. Come test out the latest Tablet PCs and talk with developers about Tablet PC technologies. It�s a great opportunity to see the Tablet PCs and get answers to your technical questions around the platform. For more information, visit the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Web site.


FaThumb: A Facet-Based Interface for Mobile Search
Existing interfaces for mobile search requires keyword entry in favor of iterative data filtering. We propose navigation and selection of hierarchical metadata, with incremental text entry to further narrow the results. For more information, visit the FaThumb project page.


Crypto KeyTote
The Crypto KeyTote, a physical device, provides a simple user method to move cryptographic keys from a new device to a home store. In contrast to current approaches that are either insecure or inconvenient, this approach is simple, low-cost (about $0.50 COGS), robust, and highly secure. The system uses these steps: First, the consumer takes the KeyTote to the new device. Second, with a KeyTote button push, the new device transmits its crypto key using its LED and the KeyTote records the transmitted key. Third, the consumer carries the KeyTote to his home store, such as a computer, logs in, and docks the USB end of the KeyTote. Fourth, the KeyTote transfers the new device�s key into the computer�s local storage. Lastly, the PC securely sends the new device a session key encrypted with the new device�s key.


Radio-Frequency Certificates of Authenticity
A certificate of authenticity (COA) is an inexpensive physical object that has a random, unique structure with a high cost of near-exact reproduction. An additional requirement is that the uniqueness of a COA�s random structure can be verified by using an inexpensive device. We will introduce a design proposal for credit-card-sized objects that behave as COAs in the electromagnetic domain. The objective is to complement radio-frequency identifications or bar codes to make them physically unique and hard to replicate. We hope to create a super tag whose information about a product can be read within a relative far field and whose authenticity can be verified within its near field with low error rates. The system can be used to protect branded products, to create hard-to-forge objects of value, such as currency and coupons, and to provide tamper-evident seals. For more information, visit Darko Kirovski�s Web page.


Soap: A Pointing Device
Soap is a pointing device based on hardware found in a mouse, yet works in mid-air. Soap consists of an optical sensor device moving freely inside a hull made of fabric. As the user applies pressure from the outside, the optical sensor moves independent from the hull. The optical sensor perceives this relative motion and reports it as position input. Soap offers many of the benefits of optical mice, such as high-accuracy sensing. We have tried soap for a variety of application scenarios, including wall display interaction, Windows Media Center, slide presentation, and interactive video games. For more information, visit the Soap project page.


Surface Computers
We are exploring ways to push the computing interface into your everyday world, primarily through the use of sensing techniques and new display technologies. PlayAnywhere is a prototype projector and camera system that enables a number of surface computing scenarios, such as map navigation and other gesture-based interfaces on a normal desk surface. We�ll also demonstrate how a Bluetooth Windows Mobile phone can connect seamlessly to PlayAnywhere when placed on the surface: the desk then displays the pictures just taken by the cameraphone.


Microsoft Robotics Studio
Today�s improved processors and lower-cost sensors are fueling the development of robotics applications for a broad variety of devices, including household vacuums and unmanned vehicles for search and rescue missions. Microsoft Robotics Studio provides a common development platform for robotics innovators to overcome one of their biggest remaining hurdles: the gragmentation of the robotics industry caused by today�s incompatible platforms. You can download the community technology preview of the Microsoft Robotics Studio.


Building Interoperable Embedded Devices with SOAP
This booth showcases the Microsoft Embedded Web Services Toolkit in action. It runs on devices built by students at Texas A&M University, where the toolkit has been used in research and education. For example:

  • A tablet running Windows Vista is used to draw images. The images are then communicated to a separate display device. This device is in fact a separate SOAP enabled microcontroller that controls a laser pointer. The laser display device receives the image as an XML description and reproduces it with the help of motorized mirrors. This demo shows how any gadget can easily be turned into a device understood by Windows Vista.
  • Two handheld gaming devices use Web Services to discover each other to play a game on one device that is controlled by the other. This shows an ad hoc device to device scenario, akin to USB-to-go but using the universal data representation and protocols based on XML.
  • A combination of new FRAM memory and Real-Time SOAP adds up to significant power savings. This demo shows that not only can the next generation embedded devices be easier to use and program but they can also be more efficient than before. Eat your cake and save it too!

For more information, visit the Invisible Computing Web site.


Design Expo
Come and see the design prototypes around this year�s Design Expo theme: �The Gigabit Connection, opportunities and issues in a high bandwidth ubiquitous computing world� where seven of the leading design universities from around the world will show their work. Examples of projects include CMU�s �Go Play,� a Web service to facilitate spontaneous gatherings of individuals to find affinity groups to get together for outdoor activities; Stanford�s �PALette,� an interactive, tangible interface that enables kids to collaborate remotely to create works of art; ESDI�s �WePod,� a social music-sharing system; RISD�s �Optilife,� a hardware and software system to monitor and manage your health; National Institute of Design�s �knuggets,� a software application that enables people and communities to capture and share experiences of their indigenous experiential knowledge; TUDelft�s �Derrick,� a location-based system to find people with the similar interests; and NYU�s �eParole,� a networked tracking, feedback, and service delivery for the criminal justice system.


Educational Technologies (iCampus, the MIT-Microsoft Alliance)
The MIT-Microsoft alliance, called iCampus, is a program that supports faculty and student initiatives in educational technology. iCampus sponsors innovation, helps to incubate innovative technologies through classroom use, and it promotes their adoption, evaluation, and continued evolution within MIT and through world-wide, multi-institution collaboration. The central theme behind all iCampus projects is the support and encouragement of active learning in a constructivist approach to education. iCampus is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), supported by Microsoft Corporation, and is conducted in collaboration with Microsoft Research. Over the past six years, creative approaches to fostering active learning leveraging technology in a variety of disciplines. An initial set of these research projects has been selected and freely distributed through iCampus. Successful dissemination of technology in education requires more than just making it easily available. The iCampus Affiliates Program seeks to share tools, build community and evaluate the impact of this work. For more information, visit the iCampus Web site.


Windows Live Academic
Windows Live Search introduces Academic: a tool designed for researchers to easily search academic content. Designed with a tight focus on the real needs of researchers and librarians, Windows Live Academic is a better way to do academic research online. It�s a fast, user-friendly tool that lets you search through academic papers, quickly sort results to pinpoint just what you�re looking for, and download them in the most usable format. For more information, visit the Windows Live� Academic Web site.


E-Mail Auto-Search
E-mail is the number one application people use on the Internet, and search is number two. We combine them by automatically finding good search terms in e-mail messages. We present these terms to users as they read their mail, and we pre-retrieve results, giving users information they want before they even ask. We train the system using machine learning techniques: with a small amount of hand-annotated data, we can learn what kinds of words are most likely to be good search terms to users. For more information, visit the Machine Learning and Applied Statistics page.


Using Results Diversity to Improve Personalization
Search results are ranked based on a match between a user�s query and documents. We will examine ways of diversifying results to improve search in general and personalized search in particular. For our Personalized Search system, we start with a list of search results and re-rank them based on the similarity of each result to the user�s interests. By systematically increasing the diversity of the results returned, we can increase the chances of finding results that are relevant to an individual user. We explored the use of query chains, queries that are common reformulations of the query, to introduce diversity into search results and to improve personalization. Additional dimensions of diversity could include retrieving results that differ in domain, topic, type, genre, or location. For more information, visit the Adaptive Systems and Interaction page.


Protecting Personal Information Online
Identity theft, phishing, and Web-based scams threaten to erode users� trust in online transactions. Users do not have a good way of controlling the leakage of their personal information or tracking where it has gone. We show a simple client browser plug-in that automatically identifies important information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and credit-card numbers. We do this passively, without requiring a user to take time to enter them or to register for a credentials-in-the-cloud service. Users then get a simple interface to track where and when their personal information has been sent. When coupled with a reputation service, such as Windows OneCare, we can warn users of problematic sites. For credit cards, we offer quick reputation information on a site before data is submitted. As a bonus, we show how to log in at an Internet cafe without worrying about keyloggers. For more information, visit the Knowledge Tools page.


Stopping a Phishing Attack
We propose a client/server scheme to stop phishing attacks. The scheme is transparent to Internet users and requires no change or redesign of Web sites. The client component detects when passwords are re-used for the first time on an unfamiliar site and reports this to the server, which then aggregates the reports across the population of clients and determines when an attack is in progress. For more information, visit the Communication, Collaboration, and Signal Processing page.


LINC: An Inkable Digital Family Calendar
Families continually must organize, plan, and stay aware of the activities of their households in order to coordinate everyday life. To help address coordination and scheduling challenges, we have built LINC, an inkable family calendar designed for use in the kitchen. Our goal for LINC is to make digital calendars as easy to use as paper calendars, with the added benefit that family members can access the home calendar from work and while mobile. For more information, visit the Community Technologies page.


Imaging Technologies for Virtual Earth
Microsoft Research�s Interactive Visual Media team is creating a state-of-the-art online presence for visually investigating many aspects of our world, including maps and views of cities and mountain ranges. Recent events such as Hurricane Katrina are being documented and presented online. Microsoft Research is helping in a number of ways to develop new modalities for capturing and viewing what our world looks like from many vantage points. These include oblique views assembled from photographs from airplanes crisscrossing the globe, to interactive panoramic views from trucks driving the streets. In this demo, we will show a number of ways in which we are able to assemble new imagery, and we will provide new modalities for viewing it. For more information, visit the Interactive Visual Media Group page.


Rich PowerPoint Presentation Representation and Editing
This demonstration shows rich visualizations of PowerPoint presentations to facilitate browsing, editing, and dynamic presentation. Specifically, one primary visualization tracks a PowerPoint presentation through different versions in a manner similar to WinDiff, letting users see how presentations have been modified by indicating which slides have been moved, added, deleted, or edited. This is a user-interface demo, built using the Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon); IronPython, an implementation of Python built on top of the Common Language Runtime; and Sho components built by Microsoft Research. For more information, visit the Next Media page.


Accelerator: Computation on GPUs Made Easy
Graphics-processing units (GPUs) provide much more computational power than comparable CPUs and can be used to deliver significant increases in speed over CPUs for many algorithms. We demonstrate Accelerator, an efficient, robust system that makes it a snap to map computations to a GPU. Until now, programming GPUs for general-purpose uses has required specialized knowledge of graphics programming and graphics tools. Accelerator provides a data-parallel programming model that can be accessed in C# and other .NET languages and that automatically maps the data parallelism to GPU operations. We will showcase an application that demonstrates the improved responsiveness and interactivity made possible by this approach. The Accelerator application-programming interface is available for download.


Model Checking and Model-Based Testing of .NET Code
Modeling is a promising approach to ensure quality of software artifacts. This demo shows the newest modeling technology of Microsoft Research and its instrumentation in model checking and model-based testing. The approach is based on a multi-language modeling approach, which captures modeling in .NET languages like C# and Spec#, as well as diagrammatic notations like activity charts and state charts. These models can be authored, configured, and combined in various ways in the Visual Studio environment. The technology is based on XRT, a virtual execution and software model-checker framework for .NET intermediate code. For more information, visit the Foundations of Software Engineering page.


Spec# (pronounced �speck-sharp�), is a new programming system that adds design-by-contract features to C#. It offers runtime checking as well as static verification for method pre- and postconditions and object invariants. It has a non-null type system and checked exceptions. It is integrated into Visual Studio and provides design-time feedback as you edit your program. See the future of programming today! For more information, visit the Programming Languages and Methods page.


The Wild Thing Goes Mobile
Text input is a real pain, especially on a mobile device with no keyboard, such as a phone or a personal digital assistant. Many user interfaces have been suggested: T9, Graffiti, Dasher. The Wild Thing encourages users to use wild cards (*) anywhere in the input text. A language model finds the k-best expansions. Users quickly learn when they can employ wild cards. In this way, language modeling can be used to speed data entry, both in a mobile context and on the desktop. We will demo two implementations: a server solution accessible by using any Web browser and a client solution running locally on a phone. For more information, visit the Programming Languages and Methods page.


Graph Layout Engine
GLEE (Graph Layout Engine) can be used for visualization of graphs representing state machines, XML schemas, databases, and more. To download GLEE, visit the Programming Languages and Methods page.


Sho: The .NET Data Playground
Sho is an interactive environment for data input, visualization, and machine learning. The basic interface is a command line that enables the user to �play� with data and algorithms from many sources in a unified environment. It is based on IronPython, an interpretive language for .NET, and consists of data types and libraries for mathematical analysis, signal processing, and visualization. The goal of Sho is to provide an environment in which researchers and developers can prototype and debug algorithms quickly and interactively in a MATLAB-like way, but still take advantage of the power of database, system, user interface, and IO application-programming interfaces by using .NET. In this demo, we will show a variety of features of Sho, including math and plotting functionalities, easy C# integration, and real-time capabilities. Our goal is to release Sho to all of Microsoft Research in June. For more information, visit the Knowledge Tools page.


Dryad: Simplifying Data-Parallel Programming
Dryad aims to make it easier for programmers to implement and deploy large or complex data-parallel applications. Dryad is intended to scale gracefully up to applications with petabytes of data running on data-center clusters with thousands of computers, and down to single multiprocessor or multicore computers. A programmer who wants to run an application on Dryad creates a high-level data-flow description (graph) of the application and writes simple sequential programs that are to be run at the nodes of the graph. Dryad runs these programs on available processors, taking full, transparent responsibility for scheduling, communications, and fault tolerance.


Gaming and Graphics
Andy Phelps, from RIT, will be showcasing M.U.P.P.E.T.S. and its new C# functionality. The M.U.P.P.E.T.S. system is aimed specifically at engaging upper-division students in the education of lower-division students through their first-year programming core. The M.U.P.P.E.T.S. team is building on existing research and technical developments in the field to design and construct a CVE and supporting infrastructure that allows students to write simple C# or Java code similar to and constructed around the same pedagogical issues as code written in a more traditional course of first year study. As part of the M.U.P.P.E.T.S. system, this code can control objects in a shared virtual world very much like an online massively multiplayer game that many prospective students are already familiar with. Upper-level students also populate the system in a structure of their own, and this population will be aimed at encouraging and rewarding student engagement and peer knowledge-transmission. Game Industry folks including Linden Labs (Second Life), EA, and XBOX have all been quietly impressed with the graduates of RIT � come see why. For more information, visit the MUPPETS Web site.

Alongside Andy, John Nordlinger, from the External Research & Programs group in Microsoft Research, will be showcasing the latest Microsoft Research gaming kit with new code examples, curriculum including the latest DirectX course from DevelopMentor, white papers, and video and PowerPoint presentations. This kit continues to be enhanced with the latest from academia and industry, including DirectX, XNA, and Tablet PC, and it includes a fantastic Tablet PC soduko game. It also includes the presentations from the Academic Days cruise on gaming in computer science held this past winter. See what�s in the kit you have already received that you can use right away!


External Research & Programs
Through the External Research & Programs group, Microsoft Research annually supports dozens of research projects in major universities in the United States and abroad. See how we assist recruiting, product development, and our corporate image by fostering collaboration and innovation in academic research and teaching. Hear about engagements drawn from current initiatives in eScience, languages and compilers, digital inclusion, mobility, robotics, tablet PC, gaming, and trustworthy computing. Sample research resource kits made available to academics help jump-start research on Microsoft technologies. For more information, see the External Research & Programs Web site.


Ink-Enabled Search and Visualization
With the penetration of Tablet PCs in the market, users are performing more tasks using the pen as an input device. Using this invention the user can write the query with the pen and issue it directly without having to go through the text conversion process. The new engine enables a search engine to directly accept digital ink samples acquired from an electronic pen and produce search results. Visualization of data is becoming very important in the information age. Seadragon is a hardware-accelerated rendering engine, a bandwidth-efficient architecture for interacting with large visual documents, and a new approach to scalable user interaction.


ConferenceXP is an initiative of Microsoft Research. We�re exploring how to make wireless classrooms, collaboration, and distance learning a compelling, rich experience by assuming the availability of emerging and enabling technologies, such as high-bandwidth networks, wireless devices, Tablet PCs, and the advanced features in Microsoft software platforms. For more information, see the ConferenceXP Web site.


Tablet-Based Computing
We are addressing bottlenecks in electronic grading of computer programming assignments. We will demonstrate software that interacts with a course management system to download computer programs, convert to format suitable for pen markup, and return the graded assignments.


Windows Embedded Academic Program (WEMAP)
The Windows Embedded Academic Program (WEMAP) helps provide a better understanding of the Windows CE and Windows XP Embedded operating systems to academia. As a participant in this program, you can learn how to educate the next generation of embedded developers on Windows Embedded technologies. You can participate in a variety of programs, including student competitions like the Windows Embedded Student ChallengE and discounted hardware programs, such as the Hardware Empowerment Program.


Windows Vista


SenseWeb Project and Microsoft Research Sense Toolkit
SenseWeb is a research portal that lets users visualize and query real-time data by using a geographical interface, such as Windows Live Local, and allows data owners to publish their live data easily by using a Web service interface. For more information, see the SenseWeb Project page.

The Microsoft Research Sensing Toolkit (Microsoft Research Sense) is a collection of software tools that allow users to collect, process, archive, and visualize data from a sensor network. The current version contains a reconfigurable microserver execution environment (mSEE); a small library implementing signal processing and event detection algorithms; an extension to Excel 2003 (Senscel) to import, visualize and processing sensor data; an interface to SQL Server to archive and retrieve data; and a microserver interaction console (mSIC) for users to configure and control microservers. All software is implemented in C# under Visual Studio 2005 and .NET Framework 2.0. For more information, visit the MSR Networked Embedded Sensing Toolkit (Microsoft Research Sense) page.


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