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TechFest 2010: Could This Stuff Really Happen?

You may not be able to attend yourself, but you should keep track of news coming out of Microsoft's TechFest 2010 if you're into high-tech futurism.

Since 2001, the invitation-only event has showcased futuristic projects in development at Microsoft Research. While some of these far-out projects fall by the wayside of the forgotten, others eventually bear mainstream fruition.

For example, in the 2003 event, Microsoft Technical Fellow Jim Gray (who later tragically disappeared at sea) presented his spatial search project titled "There Goes the Neighborhood! Spatial (or N-Dimensional) Search in a Relational World." Of course, SQL Server 2008 introduced spacial support.

Also in 2003, a project called MediaFrame was introduced, promising to allow "folks to sort, annotate and organize digital photos and video, as well as transmit images to devices and screens around a home. The project includes face-recognition technology to help sort photos." Sound familiar?

The Tablet PC and software that combines multiple photos into one panoramic view are other well-known examples of TechFest prototypes come to life.

They still haven't gotten that "Minority Report" thing down, though. Tom Cruise was manipulating 3D, holographic images with his hands way back in 2002. This year, you can check out a video of Craig Mundie "demonstrating a 3-D climate-change model that's controlled with gestures and voice commands." They're getting closer all the time.

What do you foresee in the future? What are your favorite predictive hits and misses? Comment here or send me an e-mail.

Posted by David Ramel on 03/03/2010 at 1:15 PM


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