Last week I attended Microsoft Research TechFest. This is the first year that Microsoft opens its gates to the mortal people. Everything that they showed is no longer under NDA, but still there is no much information on the web. You can keep looking at Microsoft Research site. If something is published, it is going to be there. It was very interesting to see what Microsoft has prepared in its labs. I hope most of the things will come live some day.
The most exciting project for me was a TerraServer like software which shows you a map of the universe and you can zoom in and zoom out in it. It is very interesting to see different galaxies only with a drag of the mouse. It is like having the most powerful telescope in your home computer. Imagine what research scientists around the world can do with such enormous information at their fingertips.
Another interesting project that was shown was a game to learn programming for kids. You basically control a robot through different programming constructs. Of course you can not make the compiler to break. All constructs are valid code and you are using visual interface to specify different commands like move here, look around, eat this, punch that πŸ™‚ … The punching part was missing but if this product goes to market it will definitely have one πŸ™‚
One project had my attention. This was an idea of mine about 1 year ago but I never started it and it is better that I did not do that because Microsoft put a lot of efforts in it. They built a web service testing engine that performs white test on your web service input parameters. They look in your code and try to find a border solution or invalid value for your parameters that will make your web service fail. I have the gut feeling that this product will make it in Visual Studio at some time.
There was a Bulgarian presence at the Multimedia and Graphics division. They build a sound speakers system that can produce several different audio channels. The trick is that you hear one of the channels only when you are on given angle from the speakers. If you move to a different angle (over 30 grades), you will hear another channel. The technology uses noise reduction techniques to accomplish that.
There were also few cats involved in this year’s TechFest.