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Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2008




The UnMousePad
Ilya Rosenberg and Ken Perlin present the UnMousePad, a paper thin, flexible multi-touch device about size of a mouse pad. The UnMousePad not only continuously detects a multitude of touches, it also senses varying levels of pressure at a resolution high enough to distinguish multiple fingertips and even the tip of a pen or pencil. Because of its form-factor, it can be used for simple mouse input, for multi-touch gestures, or for a wide variety of interactive applications, such as games, 3D sculpting, 6DOF object manipulation, musical instruments, and interactive control of synthesized human voice.


Mobile Augmented Reality Games and Visualization
Steve Feiner and Sean White of Columbia University demonstrate prototype mobile augmented reality applications. The goal is to merge virtual information with the real world, leveraging our skill in interacting with physical objects to interact with virtual ones. Demos include hand-held games, user interfaces for an electronic field guide for plants, and visualizations of site data for urban designers. Work being displayed is implemented using the Goblin XNA 3D platform, running on top of Microsoft XNA.


3D User Interfaces in Video Games with the Bespoke 3DUI XNA Framework
Joseph LaViola and Paul Varcholik of the University of Central Florida demonstrate a series of simple video games that utilize concepts from 3D user interfaces and virtual reality. The demos let users play music with virtual instruments, battle Boba Fett, dance, and play 3D Pacman. These demonstrations have been built using the Bespoke 3DUI XNA Framework, an open-source software library based on the Microsoft XNA Game Studio, for developing games and simulations using 3D user interfaces. The framework's goal is to make it easier for game developers and hobbyists to create mainstream games that give users rich, interactive experiences that can mimic the real world or provide magical, larger-than-life experiences. The key feature of the framework is that it provides a set of software components that are essential to supporting spatial 3D interaction, such as stereoscopic rendering, 6DOF optical head tracking, Wiimote 3D motion controller support, and an extensible 3D gesture recognizer.


Ken Perlin and Ilya Rosenberg demonstrate the iBird project, which is a physically engaging and responsive bird flight simulation game. iBird allows players to fly to great heights with the wind in their faces. A player literally flaps his/her outstretched arms to fly, while seeing himself/herself as a procedurally animated bird in flight on a projection screen, flapping in time to the player's movement. Players score game points by successfully navigating an aerial obstacle course while an array of table fans blow air from different directions to help the player feel the speed and direction of his/her flight. iBird was developed as part of the SPIRAL project (Science, Playful Interface Research, And Learning), to create kid-friendly and physically engaging science games and simulations that combine multiple low-cost game-controllers and custom built input and output devices.


Saving Money and Energy via Data Center Design
In this joint work with Global Foundation Services, we are studying the cost and the energy efficiency of data-center designs. For example, will dividing a traditional collocation into smaller compartments be more energy efficient? Each compartment is self-contained with cooling and ventilation. With a dense wireless sensor array, we gather data from a prototype design built in a Microsoft data center. We compare the heat distribution and the power consumption between the new design and traditional collocations. We further investigate ways of saving hardware costs and scheduling server workload in the compartment environment. We demonstrate sensors designed for Microsoft data centers and data-collection mechanisms. Research questions to answer include: Do we need individual fans in the servers, or is a set of larger, more efficient fans on the rack sufficient? How should we control the air-conditioning unit in a densely sensed environment? And how should a workload be distributed over servers to save cooling energy most effectively?


This is a showcase for academic projects from the SensorMap: Browsing the Physical World in Real-Time 2007 RFP Awards. The objective of this RFP was to establish a compelling portfolio of research projects that leveraged the SensorMap platform to build an open and diverse community of sensor data publishers/consumers and to develop shared infrastructure and tools for data publishing, data management, and data querying and visualization.


RoboticsIPRE & Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio
The Institute for Personal Robots in Education (IPRE - http://roboteducation.org) applies and evaluates robots as a context for computer science education. IPRE is a joint effort between Georgia Tech and Bryn Mawr College. Our initial effort is targeted at CS-1: to provide curricula, hardware and software for an exciting new approach to introductory computer science. We use Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio and other technologies. Our robot has a target price of $100. IPRE is initially sponsored by Microsoft Research for the first 3 years, launched in summer 2006. Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio is an industrial strength product set to enable academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics and other applications demanding concurrency and distribution across a wide variety of hardware (http://microsoft.com/robotics).


Exploring Sharing Suggestions to Enhance Family Connectedness
VIBE demos: Ever feel slightly overwhelmed after receiving 200 pictures of your sister's vacation? Want to keep in better touch with your parents or siblings, but just don't have the time? The prototype shares a photo-of-the-day (from your digital photos) and items from your calendar each day using Windows Live Spaces. We are studying the effect of frequently sharing small amounts of information on the relationship between extended family members.


LucidTouch is a new type of touch screen device. It prevents the user's fingers from occluding screen contents by allowing users to interact with the backside of the device, yet providing visual control by means of "pseudo-transparency." The benefit of this approach is that it allows making very small touch devices, which is not possible with traditional touch screen technology.


Multi-Touch Spherical Display
Sphere is a multi-user, multi-touch-sensitive spherical display that uses an infrared camera for touch sensing and shares the same optical path with the projector used for the display. This novel configuration permits: (1) the enclosure of both the projection and the sensing mechanism in the base of the device, and (2) easy 360-degree access for multiple users, with a high degree of interactivity without shadowing or occlusion.


Design Expo
Design Expo from Microsoft provides a forum for exceptional design thinking about the future of computing and interactions. As part of a semester long course, students were asked to design a scenario, user experience and interaction prototype, from which selected projects will be featured at DemoFest during the 2008 Microsoft Faculty Summit.


Salsa � Social Network Aggregation in Outlook
Salsa aggregates information about people, projects, and groups (DL's), and displays it in a context of Outlook messages.


Privacy Integrated Queries: An Extensible Platform for Private Data Analysis
Privacy Integrated Queries (PINQ) is a data analysis platform designed to overcome one of the most substantial hurdles in the deployment of privacy-preserving data analysis: despite the substantial interest on the part of both data analyst and data provider, inordinate effort is required for the two parties to convince themselves of the privacy guarantees of a given technique. Even in the uncommon case that both parties are privacy experts, different dialects of privacy can make agreement difficult. PINQ aims to be a lingua franca for privacy, providing a simple and natural data access API for data analysts and unconditional privacy guarantees for data providers. All programs written in PINQ provide �differential privacy,� a recent and powerful privacy guarantee; analysts and providers can convince themselves of the privacy of an algorithm simply by limiting its data access to the API provided by PINQ. Analysts needn�t prepare complex theoretical analyses, and providers needn�t understand them. This simple and powerful platform opens the doors to privacy-preserving analysis of arbitrarily sensitive data, without requiring any privacy expertise in the design or implementation of the algorithm.


Interactive Techniques for Registering Images to Digital Terrain and Building Models
We present work comparing two interactive techniques for registering an image to 3D digital terrain and building models. Registering an image enables a variety of applications, including slideshows with context, automatic annotation, and photo enhancement. To perform the registration, we investigate two modes of interaction. In the overlay interface, an image is displayed over a 3D view and a user manually aligns 3D points to points in the image. In the split interface, the image and the 3D view are displayed side-by-side and the user indicates matching points across the two views. Our user study suggests that the overlay interface is more engaging than split, but is less accurate in registration. We then show several applications that make use of the registration data.


External Research
External Research collaborates with university researchers around the world, focusing on current real-world issues, cutting-edge research, challenges facing the academic ecosystem, and innovative approaches to education that prepare students for the challenges of the future. Highlighted in this booth will be demos related to scholarly communication and academic productivity space, including the Researcher Information Centre (RIC), the Research Output Repository Platform, the eJournal Publishing Service, the Article Authoring Add-in for Word 2007 and the Creative Commons Add-in for Office 2007.


EdPG Technologies Including Microsoft MILPA
Technologies to help educators reach more learners; and enables learners to study more efficiently and maximize their learning potential.


MSDN Academic Alliance
Services and tools available from MSDN Academic Alliance.


Visual Studio Extensibility
Visual Studio Extensibility Academic Funding RFP showcase.


Windows Research Kernel
This demo showcases how Microsoft Windows Research Kernel is used in Computer Science classrooms.


The Dragon Meets Phoenix
Implementation of the solutions for the exercises in the Dragon book is made easy by using Phoenix. It enhances the teaching and learning experience.


Wireless Health / .NET for Physics
Science is going through a transformation due to rapid advanced in computing technologies. This demo showcases our Transform Science pilot projects at U.C.L.A., UC Berkeley, and M.I.T.
Wireless Health
Stacy Nease and Majid Sarrafzadeh, UCLA
We will demo several projects in Wireless Health where we use computational techniques to improve common practices in medicine and fitness. We will demo projects related to sleep apnea, weight lifting based exercises and others.
.NET for Physics
Tom Colton, UB Berkeley; Steve Wassermann, M.I.T.



eScience in the Cloud
The pervasive deployment of sensors and instruments is giving scientists the ability to observe nature at an unprecedented degree of detail. Telescopes that survey the entire visible universe in a week, satellites that provide continuous snapshots of earth, instruments that monitor the air quality over time and arrays of water gages that record water levels along an entire stream are examples of these. However, the increase in the diversity and the size of data introduces new challenges concerning its acquisition, analysis, and sharing. We present a set of software services and design principles for data intensive computing with petabyte data sets and/or thousands of datasets. These �GrayWulf� services are intended for deployment on a cluster of commodity servers similar to the well-known Beowulf clusters. Two of the GrayWulf projects we present are:

  • PanSTARRS Data Ingest Workflows: Applying scientific workflows based on Windows Workflows, SQL Server and Windows HPC cluster running on commodity machines to reliably update a 30TB collection of astronomy data with detections from a realtime digital survey. This drastically reduces the lead time for astronomers to access the data from 6 months to 1 week. For more information, see: http://www.ps1sc.org.
  • SciScope: An ontology-aided search engine for locating scientific data on hydrology and water quality from 1.65 million sites in the USA. SciScope creates a unified view over the databases of U.S. Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency and individual researchers, removing barriers imposed by semantic and information system heterogeneity. This improves the search experience and reduces data discovery time prior to processing. For more information, see: http://www.sciscope.org.



Center for Collaborative Technologies
The Center for Collaborative Technologies at University of Washington was established in 2007 to develop the ConferenceXP platform, apply the technologies to a wide range of educational and collaborative scenarios, and strengthen the educational and research communities that use these collaboration tools. This demo will introduce ConferenceXP 5.0 with enhanced security and network diagnostics. We will also demonstrate the newest version of Classroom Presenter (CP 3.1) with quick polling and enhanced capabilities for small devices. For more information, contact: Prof. Richard Anderson at anderson@cs.washington.edu or Jane Prey at jprey@microsoft.com.  


The Microsoft Center for Research on Pen-Centric Computing
We want computer interaction to be as fluid as interacting with pencil and paper. In support of that goal, we are investigating rich 2D pen and multi-touch input that avoids translating familiar 2D notations into linear keyboard input and indirect GUI interaction. Our techniques will facilitate the broader use of well-honed physical skills to work naturally and directly on 2D surfaces, ranging from PDAs through Tablet PCs to SmartBoards. We expect that this strategy will result not only in productivity increases, but also in the discovery of new workflow paradigms. In this new environment, diagrams and recognized notations of various kinds, such as mathematics and chemistry, are unified to create rich media, making computational assistance seamless and commonplace. For more information, see: http://pen.cs.brown.edu/home.html.


Looking Through the WorldWide Telescope
The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a rich, Web 2.0 visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes in the world for a seamless, guided exploration of the universe. Choose from a growing number of interactive guided tours of the sky by astronomers and educators from major universities and planetariums. WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft�s high-performance Visual Experience Engine, enables panning and zooming across the night sky. Zoom into the center of a nebula to see the condensation of a dust cloud and the birth of a new star. Discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from a thousand years ago. WWT blends many terabytes of images, data, and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-immersive experience. Kids of all ages will feel empowered to explore and understand the universe with WWT�s simple, powerful user interface. WWT is a collaborative effort between Microsoft Research and a variety of academic and governmental agencies. Microsoft Research will be releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education community with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe as never before. 


Trident: A Workflow Workbench for Oceanography
Science is undergoing a sea change. Instead of the small, private, periodic data sets currently being used, large, sophisticated, remote-sensor systems soon will bring enormous amounts of real-time data to be shared by multidisciplinary scientists. One such example is Project Neptune for oceanography. To cope with this shift from data-poor to data-rich science, new tools are needed to help scientists work effectively with these systems and with the enormous amount of data that they will generate. Trident is a collaborative scientific and engineering partnership between the University of Washington, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Microsoft�s Technical Computing Initiative to provide Project Neptune with a scientific-workflow workbench for oceanography. The Trident workbench is built atop the Windows Workflow Foundation. Trident enables users to automate, explore, and visualize data; to compose, run, and catalog experiments; to create a workflow starter kit that makes it easy for users to extend the functionality of Trident; and to learn by exploring and visualizing ocean and model data. We will illustrate how Trident can be used to author workflows through a visual interface, store workflows in a library for easy reuse, and execute oceanographic workflows to create on-demand visualizations. Our booth will include posters that provide context for both the Neptune project and the Trident workflow workbench.


Embedded Systems Group
Project demonstrations from students and interns, including a musical fountain and a self-modifying MIPS processor and related tools.


Pex: Automated Exploratory Testing for .NET
Pex is an intelligent assistant to the programmer. From a parameterized unit test, it automatically produces a traditional unit test suite with high code coverage. In addition, it suggests to the programmer how to fix the bugs. For more information, see: http://codebox/pex.


CHESS: Systematic Concurrency Testing
CHESS is an automated tool suite for finding errors in multithreaded software by systematic exploration of thread schedules. It finds errors, such as data-races, deadlocks, hangs, and data-corruption induced access violations, which are extremely hard to find with current testing tools. Once CHESS locates an error, it provides a fully repeatable execution of the program leading to the error, thus greatly aiding the debugging process.


Deep Intellisense
Annoyed by all the different tools you have to use to learn why some code was written the way it was? Deep Intellisense provides information about all bugs, work items, check-ins, documentation, dependencies, and people associated with any code you can select in Visual Studio. This facilitates collaboration and awareness of others� development and testing activities, in addition to making it easier to solve the mysteries you uncover in your product�s development history. Deep Intellisense is available as a Visual Studio 2008 plug-in. E-mail hip to ask about deploying Deep Intellisense for your team. Theme: Search, Interaction and Collaboration


Research Desktop: Activity Management Tools
Research Desktop enhances the standard desktop environment with features and tools that enable new ways of working and managing resources. For example, users can easily organize resources based on their activities, explore books and collections of publications, and apply various tools to extract information and analyse data.


Tiny Web Services
We will demonstrate a low-power, low-cost Web-service implementation for devices that must run on batteries for several years, such as smoke detectors and window-break sensors. In particular, we will show a prototype system of WSDL/TCP/IP over a low data rate 802.15.4 radio used in home automation. The Web-service interface makes it easy for multiple programmers to develop home-control applications using devices manufactured by different OEMs without learning new programming technologies. Our system also provides a uniform setup experience for users, enabling them to integrate multiple home devices into a single network. Finally, we will demonstrate an energy-management application that saves energy by actively monitoring weather and energy price variations using cloud services without compromising user comfort. This example application can be used to connect the 166 million U.S. homes and several million more worldwide to the Microsoft cloud for providing energy management. This application can generate a steady revenue stream for Live services that does not depend on user clicks. It also reduces our carbon footprint and leads to a greener lifestyle.


Bilingual Built-Ins That Break Language Barriers
We present exciting new applications of our translation technology, showing how machine translation, integrated into Microsoft�s products, can help eliminate barriers to worldwide communication and bring users of diverse cultures closer together. Our demo covers interesting user scenarios and presents viable solutions for making cross-language hurdles disappear.


User Interface Sketching Tool
This demonstrates the Ink-a-Sketch Project. The user interface sketching tool is a tool for sketching user interfaces (UIs) and running �paperless prototyping� sessions with end users. Developed in C#, it makes use of polyline simplification algorithms and a predefined gesture vocabulary to help recognize the shapes users draw and turn them into user interface widgets.


More or Less: Preference Judgments for Relevance
The quality of search engines�is typically evaluated using absolute judgments of relevance.�Each document is judged for relevance to a user�s query on its own, independent of other documents that may be returned.�This work explores the use of preference judgments (of the form �document A is more relevant than document B�) to evaluate search engines.�Experiments show that judges are both more consistent and faster in making preference judgments than absolute judgments.�We show how increased assessor effort that results from judging all pairs of documents can be reduced through inference and clever selection of pairs to judge.�We are exploring the use of preference judgments for search �games� in which pairs of players judge attributes of web pages (e.g., presentation quality, spam, readability, relevance). 


To Personalize or Not: When Is A Personalized Search Valuable?
One way to improve Web or enterprise search is to tailor results to individuals based on their previous interactions or current context. We have developed a toolbar plug-in for personalizing Web search results (PSearch) using a rich client-side model of a user�s interests and interaction history.�We have observed that the personalization algorithms performed well for some queries, but actually hurt performance for other queries.�We develop techniques to characterize the �potential for personalization�.�By characterizing queries in this way we find we are able to apply personalization algorithms when they are most useful, and permit rich aggregate group data to be used for ranking in the other cases.�To classify queries we take into account factors relating to the query (e.g., its length and popularity), the result set (e.g., the number of results, the diversity of results, and the entropy of the results presented), and people�s interactions with the results (e.g., the average number of results clicked per user and the click entropy).



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