Microsoft Research Launches Operations in India

BANGALORE, India, Jan. 12, 2005 — Microsoft Research today announced the launch of its operations in India. Kapil Sibal, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and Ocean Development for the Government of India, inaugurated the operations by unveiling a plaque at the opening ceremonies for the research facility. The Bangalore lab, the third Microsoft Research facility outside the United States, will conduct long-term basic and applied research. Microsoft Research India (MSRI) will initially start investigating the areas of geographic information systems (GIS), technologies for emerging markets, multilingual systems and sensor networks.

“It is a great feeling to have started our operations in India. The vibrancy and the energy of the Indian research community are very encouraging,” said P. Anandan, managing director of Microsoft Research India. “We have received unstinted support from all the people we have talked to — we feel a great deal of synergy exists with the Indian academia and government in our goals of advancing basic and applied research.”

Microsoft Research India and the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ocean Development also today signed a memorandum of understanding to partner in science and technology research projects. The first collaborative project will be a geographic information systems project that will bring a variety of satellite imagery, remote sensing and other geographic data together in a geographically indexed database. Microsoft Research India will make much of the government’s nonsensitive geographic data available to the public in a format that is easy to browse and comprehend, with intuitive visualization of data. Eventually, such a system could enable people to exchange information, much like the Internet at large, but indexed by region and geography.

Research for this project will involve work from relevant fields of computer science, including GIS, graphics, user interfaces, spatial databases, image processing and computer vision. As the project progresses, citizens of India can actually get a bird’s-eye view of the country. Comprehensive digitization of India’s terrain can support relief planning and monitoring in the wake of natural disasters.

“We are delighted to sign this MOU with the government of India. This is the first of many alliances we envision in India with the government and other research bodies to help solve some of the toughest problems in computing and accelerate the next generation of innovation in software and computing,” Anandan said. “We are also actively collaborating with academic institutions and have identified several projects to incubate creative approaches aimed at fulfilling the needs of underserved communities.”

TechVista 2005: Computing for Tomorrow

Microsoft Research India also inaugurated TechVista 2005: Computing for Tomorrow, the first of a series of annual symposiums that will bring together researchers from around the world and provide a platform for them to showcase their efforts. TechVista is also part of MSR India’s efforts to engage and collaborate with academic and scientific communities worldwide to accelerate scientific progress and innovation in computer science. TechVista 2005 features the theme Technology and Development. Speakers at the symposium include Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research; Daniel T. Ling, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research; and Butler Lampson, a senior computer scientist and Turing Award winner. Panels with leading Indian scientists will discuss technology, development and research education.

“Microsoft Research continues to expand its collaboration efforts with academia in an open environment. MSR India’s TechVista symposium series is aimed at providing a forum for researchers, academics, and the government officials to interact and to explore opportunities for innovative computing solutions,” Rashid said. “We think research in India can result in technology solutions that can enhance the quality of everyday life for people across the world.”

MSR India and ICT Projects

Microsoft Research India has already initiated activities that will catalyze research in the information, communication and technology (ICT) space by funding several university research projects. MSR India has selected several projects through the request for proposal (RFP) process from various institutions across the country and has awarded $250,000 (U.S.) in total funding for these projects. This ICT RFP has been instigated to incubate creative approaches to bringing computing to people who do not have access to technology and to support and foster new research projects aimed at solving the needs of rural and underserved communities. Applying schools had to develop proposals keeping in mind the poor infrastructure for connectivity and the intermittent and unreliable power supply while making a social impact.

Following is a list of recipients and their projects:

  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. Wireless sensor-based water-resource management network for monitoring and control of irrigation

  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore. Ethnographic studies of ICT for Development (ICT4D) projects in India

  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Deployment trials and testing for PCtvt

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Sensor networks for landslide disaster detection

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Wireless village network for asynchronous communication

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Laptop-based system for teleophthalmological diagnosis

  • Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Ad hoc wireless network for village connectivity

“One of our key goals is to deepen our engagement with India, ” said Ravi Venkatesan, chairman of Microsoft India. “Microsoft Research India’s funding of ICT projects is an example of our long-term commitment to collaborating with Indian academia. I see this engagement becoming even stronger in the future.”

About Microsoft Research India

Microsoft Research India’s mission is to conduct long-term basic and applied research and to collaborate with Indian research institutions and universities as part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to engaging with academic and scientific communities worldwide to accelerate scientific progress and innovation in computer science and software engineering. The establishment of Microsoft Research India builds on Microsoft Research’s previous endeavors in India through its University Relations program since 2001. The lab will begin operations by investigating the following areas: multilingual systems, technologies for emerging markets, geographic information systems and sensor networks.

Microsoft Research Lab India Private Ltd. plans to employ about two dozen scientists, interns and support staff in the first year. The Bangalore lab joins Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash.; San Francisco; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; and Beijing labs in bringing together great minds to build a world-class global research organization. P. Anandan, an internationally renowned researcher in computer vision and video analysis and a seven-year veteran of Microsoft Research in Redmond, leads Microsoft Research India.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in six labs on three continents, focusing on more than 55 areas of computing. Researchers collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences.

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