Microsoft Research Cambridge Offers Fact Not Fiction at Science Open Day

CAMBRIDGE, England, June 9, 2004 — Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSRC), Microsoft Corp.’s research facility covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), launched the first MSRC Science Open Day today, showcasing new scientific research that demonstrates how technical innovation is pushing the boundaries of computing. Featuring tools that range from new home networking technology to devices that explore the relationship between humans and computing, the event is the largest display of EMEA-based technology research projects from Microsoft Research this year. Today’s event explores the role of science in technology research and shows that modern technology is founded on scientific thought as well as technical innovation.

“We’re delighted to be able to demonstrate what we consider to be some of the most advanced computer science research currently being undertaken across EMEA,” said Andrew Herbert, managing director, MSRC. “The common thread throughout these projects is their dependence and basis on scientific theory and thought. So much of our everyday lives are already based on science and while we are all aiming to push the boundaries of modern computing, it’s the pursuit of furthering science that really drives this facility’s research.”

The MSRC Science Open Day features research projects from the following divisions within the facility.

Machine Learning and Perception

The machine learning and perception group presents two new projects today. i2i uses dual cameras and stereo imaging techniques to offer a number of enhanced video conferencing capabilities. Founded on new computer algorithms, invented by the i2i team, the technology provides a virtual personal camera operator that tracks the user, panning and zooming in real time to improve the quality of visual communication. In addition, the technology can dynamically replace the background of a scene to make a user appear to be in a different location. i2i also introduces the concept of 3D Emoticons that takes traditional emoticons found in e-mail and messenger products to the next level by allowing three-dimensional objects to be inserted into a scene, such as a light bulb of inspiration that floats above the user’s head.

Grabcut is a research project that allows users to greatly reduce the time and effort required to cut and paste elements in digital images. Using new mathematical models and algorithms, Grabcut amplifies the work done by users so they can select any part of an image simply by dragging a rectangle around that portion of the picture. The technology showcased in the Grabcut project can make it possible to cut and paste sections of images far more quickly than with existing tools.

Programming Principles and Tools

The Programming Principles and Tools group today announced the Samoa project, research that explores ways to provide formal security for Web services. The Samoa team is working on prototype tools, based on recent advances in theoretical computer science, to analyze the security of deployed Web services. Refinements of these tools could one day be used to prevent subtle but potentially serious vulnerabilities in the future, service-oriented, Internet.

Interactive Systems Group

Today the newly founded Interactive Systems Group demonstrated the SenseCam research project, which explores a wearable personal image recorder that acts as a human “black box,” allowing wearers to capture a digital diary of their day.

The Interactive Systems Group today announced that it is discussing with Addenbrookes, the Cambridge-based National Health Service (NHS) Trust, the possibility of collaboration and trials of SenseCam with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-loss conditions.

“The SenseCam research project could provide certain patients suffering from memory loss with the ability to keep a visual diary of their memories and, potentially, improve their quality of life,” said Dr. Narinder Kapur, Addenbrookes. “Working with Microsoft Research Cambridge really shows the way in which scientific research can benefit the medical sector, and we are pleased to be involved in a research project that could have real benefits to patients one day.”

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goal is to develop new technologies that simplify and enhance the user’s computing experience, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and facilitate the creation of new types of software. Microsoft Research employs more than 600 people, focusing on more than 40 areas of computing. Researchers in five facilities on three continents collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to simplify and enhance technology in such areas as speech recognition, user-interface research, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, graphics, natural language processing, and mathematical sciences. More information can be found at .

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