Microsoft's Research team in Cambridge opened its doors last week to offer a sneak peek at the future. Microsoft has spent nearly $30 billion on research and development over the past three years, and this particular lab — consisting of over 100 researchers mainly from Europe — has contributed to Bing, Xbox Kinect, and the functional programming language F#.
Microsoft is now looking well ahead into the future of computing and how user interfaces and the way we interact with machines will change. During an open house, the software maker demonstrated a variety of ways that the company is looking to improve its Kinect sensor and use it for an augmented reality future. From Kinect Fusion, that creates an interactive real-time 3D model of the environment, to Kinect-infused augmented projectors, where projection-based devices are "aware" of their environment — Microsoft is focused on a world of sensors and cameras.
"In the future we will see more and more, we believe, of no-touch computing," says Andrew Blake, a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and the Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. "There is something rather compelling about such a free style of interaction, breaking free from the desktop and being much more expressive." This type of interaction was originally applied to Microsoft's Kinect camera for gaming, a popular accessory that took the idea of controller-free gaming to the masses. It's now crossing over to additional devices that might serve to assist Kinect in mapping out the real world for a computer.
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