Cab drivers know their cities intimately, using shortcuts and side streets to bypass traffic jams and (hopefully) get you to your destination more quickly. Now Microsoft is hoping to tap into this talent and design better driving directions for online maps.
So there's this company called Microsoft. Perhaps the name rings a bell. Pretty good at software, services, that kind of thing. They've spent the last five years getting absolutely obliterated on the most important software platform of our time: the mobile phone. Just obliterated, as arch competitors Google, Apple, even Palm (Palm!) have whizzed past, slipping the occasional kick in the ribs to Windows Mobile 6.5, laying in the gutter there. Bleeding pretty badly.
But it seems as if the hemorrhaging may have finally stopped.
Microsoft's Windows Phone unveiling this morning was all about variety. Nine different phones, just in the U.S., built by four of the top hardware makers in the game. All kinds of different hardware shapes, including some we've never seen before. And they'll be available on 60 different carriers worldwide--none of which is the U.S.'s biggest and best, Verizon. But even so, Windows Phone 7 is tremendously exciting, a worthy competitor to Android and iPhone that bests them both in some ways. Here's what's coming.
A sharp-looking tabletop touchscreen can be used to command robots and combine data from various sources, potentially improving military planning, disaster response and search-and-rescue operations.
Mark Micire, a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, proposes using Surface, Microsoft's interactive tabletop, to unite various types of data, robots and other smart technologies around a common goal.
It sounds a bit Google-ey, what with all the data mining across the Web and all that, but it's Microsoft researchers in Beijing that are crafting an online Chinese-to-English dictionary that could become a model for language learning tools bridging any two tongues. Engkoo.com pulls its database from the Web itself, cross-referencing sites that exist in both English and Chinese, searching existing online dictionaries, and mining other sources to create a rich resource for both learning and translation.
In the war over Internet privacy, money has apparently won a major battle.
Microsoft engineers initially wanted a feature in Internet Explorer 8 to limit the powers of third-party tracking cookies by default, the Wall Street Journal reports today. But executives, concerned with the ramifications for online advertisers, won out--and the world's leading browser was designed to share users' private information with advertisers.
Any sentimentalist knows why we carry cameras: to capture memories. And a memory captured is one you don't need to remember yourself. That's more or less the idea behind the new Vicon Revue. The device, which is based on a Microsoft Research project, is a three-ounce camera that automatically snaps away all day long, remembering events so you don't have to. We took it out for a test drive.
First they gave us a high-res tour of Mars -- now Microsoft has made the largest and clearest night-sky map ever. It's a terapixel image: 1,000 000,000,000 pixels.
The software giant's Terapixel project stitched together 1,791 pairs of red-light and blue-light plates from telescopes in California and Australia. The result is the map above, which covers the night sky of the northern and southern hemispheres.
Using Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope program, you can now take an interactive tour of Mars with the highest-resolution images available of the Red Planet -- something even scientists have never been able to see before.
Microsoft's Kinect, the controller-free, gesture-based gaming platform that finally saw an official unveiling at E3 this week continues to surprise us, but not always necessarily in good ways. For instance, we think it's awesome that the non-peripheral peripheral can tell when a child is playing and adjust gameplay to be easier. However, we're quite nonplussed with the discovery that Kinect apparently doesn't work well at all if you're sitting down. Being a couch potato suddenly became difficult, and we certainly didn't see that coming.