Saturday, 1 November 2008

Microsoft Research Demonstrates Technology Breakthroughs at PDC2008

Developers get new tools and a glimpse into future of robotics, Surface, other Microsoft innovations designed to address societal issues and change the computing experience.

Microsoft Research Web site

Front view of Microsoft Surface.
Front view of Microsoft Surface.
Click for hi-res version

Los Angeles – Oct. 29, 2008 – At Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference 2008, Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, today showed developers how Microsoft is applying software’s power to tough technological and societal challenges.

Rashid announced the limited release of the first software development toolkit (SDK) for Microsoft Surface, new features for Worldwide Telescope, and the Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008, which will make it easier to develop loosely coupled concurrent and distributed applications.

“Advances in software hold the key to progress in multiple fields,” said Rashid. “The modern world generates massive data sets - online search, astronomical phenomena, the climate, particle physics, and the human genome, to name a few areas. With software, we can capture, analyze, and make sense of this data to help combat global warming, develop life-saving vaccines, and enrich our kids’ education.”

In his keynote address, Rashid highlighted the news announcements plus initiatives spearheaded by more than 800 researchers in Microsoft Research’s six global labs that are aimed at easing societal problems society and changing the computing experience:

Microsoft Surface SDK

Microsoft Surface is a computing platform that opens a new chapter in the way people interact with computers by connectng them to digital content through natural gestures, touch, and devices such as wireless phones or even tagged drink glasses. The platform is being opened up to the developer community for the first time at PDC2008 with the limited release of the Microsoft Surface software development kit (SDK). The SDK enables developers to build groundbreaking applications that take advantage of the attributes of Microsoft Surface, which include:

Direct interaction: the ability to execute commands through gesture or touch, rather than via a mouse or keyboard.

Multi –touch: the ability to manipulate multiple on-screen items at once. Surface can read more than 52 individual touches.

Multi-user: new collaborative computing scenarios made possible by Surface’s horizontal form factor.

Object recognition: digital responses to objects placed on Surface – functionality that will ultimately permit the transfer of digital content.

Additional highlights from Rashid’s keynote included a wide range updates and announcements, including:

WorldWide Telescope

Developed by Microsoft Research, WorldWide Telescope is a “Web browser for the sky”, bringing together images from the best ground- and space-based telescopes so people can explore the cosmos from their PC screen. Since its launch in May 2008, more than one million people have downloaded the web application. Several new features are now available for WorldWide Telescope, including a 3-D Solar System, more than 1,000 new images, and a tool that allows people to upload and share their own images of space. Existing users will be prompted to download the new features the next time they open the program. Others can download WorldWide Telescope at

The Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008

The Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008 delivers a set of .NET- and Compact Framework-class libraries and tools that enable developers to better deal with the inherent complexities of creating looselycoupled concurrent and distributed applications. The Toolkit is designed to help developers take advantage of the Concurrency and Coordination Runtime (CCR) and Decentralized Software Services (DSS) originally released as part of Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio. Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008 provide early adopters with access to select technologies today; transitioning to Microsoft’s .NET Framework in the future. To learn more about Microsoft CCR and DSS Toolkit 2008, visit:

Related Links

CCR DSS Tyco Case Study (video)

CCR DSS Siemens Case Study (written)

CCR DSS Siemens Case Study (video)

Tiny devices, big impact

Scarce energy resources and worries about climate change create challenges and opportunities for computing. The advent of large datacenters that underpin cloud-based computing services make energy-efficient computing is increasingly important. Using technology developed by Microsoft Research, Microsoft is deploying tiny sensors throughout its datacenters to capture data that will allow it to better regulate energy consumption and reduce their carbon footprint. Sensors can also be deployed in the wild to help scientists monitor and track environmental changes. Rashid demonstrated the sensor technology in the auditorium at PDC.

Related Links:

SenseWeb Project

Boku: turning programming into play

Boku is a fun, intellectuallystimulating game, developed by Microsoft Research, that introduces youngsters to programming while they play. Through programming Boku, a virtual robot, children learn the basic principles of programming logic, analysis, and design. The 3-D interactive game is designed to demystify programming and spark interest in a career in science. Youngsters as young asnine years old have already used Boku in trials to create their own games.

Related links:

Boku Web Site

Boku Gameplay Montage (Windows Media)

Boku Programming Walkthrough (Windows Media)


Developed by a team from Microsoft Research, DryadLINQ is a powerful programming environment that enables ordinary programmers to write large-scale data parallel applications to run on large PC clusters. The platform comprises Dryad, a distributed execution engine that allows reliable, distributed computing across thousands of servers for large-scale data parallel applications, and the .NET Language Integrated Query, or LINQ, which allows developers to write and debug applications in a SQL-like query language, using the entire .NET library and Microsoft Visual Studio.

Related link:

DryadLINQ Web site

SecondLight: a magic lens that goes beyond the surface

The brainchild of Microsoft Researchers, SecondLight is a rear-projection technology that extends and enriches the Microsoft Surface device through the ability to project images both through and beyond the surface display, such as onto a translucent piece of plastic. With SecondLight, the translucent piece of plastic can also function as a “magic lens.” For instance, if it is” passed over an image displayed on the primary surface – suchas a car – it provides a view of the “inner workings” behind the image. In another application of this so-called “layering effect”, the transparency could register images of constellations when passed over a surface displaying the night sky. The technology also permits gesture-based interactions with the surface from farther away than rear- projected systems allow.

Related Links:

SecondLight Video

White Paper: Going Beyond the Display: A Surface Technology with an Electronically Switchable Diffuser

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Nasser Hajloo
a Persian Graphic Designer , Web Designer and Web Developer

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