Social Media goes hyper local for emergencies

For the past year, whenever my group has had government visitors to Microsoft labs in Redmond to see advanced technologies, we’ve considered whether or not to show them a demo of a particular “secret project” being developed, now called Microsoft Vine.

vineIf the group was with local or state government, or related to homeland security, or emergency responders and the like, the answer was easier, because that’s the sweet spot it’s designed for.

But I was always tempted to show it even to my federal government friends – and anyone else – just because it’s so impressive!

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Three cool new projects in Microsoft Research

[April Fool’s Edition]   I haven’t blogged in a little while – been a little busy – so I’ll make up for it with a burst of three cool new things coming out of the inventive lab work at Microsoft Research – improving Twitter, computer performance, and mobile phones.

MegaNano: New High-End Camera for Cellphones

Many people are dissatisfied with the fuzzy quality of photos taken with their built-in cellphone cameras. So Microsoft will be rolling out this summer the most advanced built-in mobile phone-cam on the market, based on a fantastic prototype now in final user testing at Microsoft Research’s Beijing lab.

MegaNanoDubbed the “MegaNano,” the sylish but diminutive camera boasts 72 megapixel resolution and a shutter-speed setting range from 0.003 seconds all the way up to seven hours.

The itty-bitty MegaNano will be launched simultaneously with the new Microsoft Mobile Apps Store, bundled with a nice selection of jackets and outerware with specially reinforced pouch-pockets and backpacks designed to hold the tiny device. 

I know you’ll want one. One beta-tester says, “It’s so small yet so powerful!  I have to remind myself sometimes that the weight on my shoulders is actually a tiny camera!”

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Year of Data brings together Apple iPhone, Microsoft Surface, Google Android

 

Neat video below (Stimulant’s “XRay” project), but first, why I think it’s neat:

Every year is the year of data, I believe.

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Comparing Apple and Microsoft as Platforms for Developers

I missed October’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles this year because of a couple of other conferences and meetings in other cities. But of course I was happy to see the coverage in the technology press and blogs, so much of it positive about our announcement on Windows Azure and the Azure Services Platform.

Then I read Joe Wilcox over on his “Apple Watch” blog at eWeek, on “What Apple Needs to Know about Azure, Windows 7.” It’s striking in its conclusions, particularly coming from a longtime Apple watcher:

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Stop being so touchy

Remember Tom Cruise’s virtual 3D in Minority Report? Wouldn’t it be cool if, instead of an iPhone-like touch screen, we could manipulate data and 3D images on screens by simply moving our hands – interacting virtually without touching a keyboard or screen?

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Microsoft Sphere, Apple Tablet

Fact: Today is the first public showing of “Sphere,” Microsoft’s newest multi-touch innovation: “After months of rumors, Microsoft researchers are taking the wraps off a prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a spherical computer display to life. People can touch the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.”

Analysis:  The video tells the story, particularly when you keep in mind that Sphere (and its earlier cousin Surface) represent a new multi-touch, multi-interface platform for human use of computing power.  A year ago Surface was still just emerging from the research lab, and now a year later it’s been introduced into AT&T retail stores and is on its way to many other commercial and public environments.  Sphere will be used in similarly unpredictable ways, adopted by third-party developers as an innovative canvas on which they can project cool new uses.

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Loopt Brings Apple, Microsoft Together

I don’t have an iPhone (I like my Windows Mobile 6.1 platform better, on a touch-screen Samsung i760) so I miss iPhone news sometimes.  I’m tardy in learning that, In the words of one of my colleagues at the Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments, “Loopt is launching their app on iPhone and is using Virtual Earth. How did Apple ever allow that to happen?”  🙂

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Massive Data Centers, Right in your Cellphone

I try to keep my cellphone on “vibrate” during meetings; no one needs to know my taste in ringtones. But more importantly, I keep it on so that I can use the browser and web search ability, which I wind up doing almost as often as I check my email.

Yesterday was a good example of the utility of ever-handy web search. My group and I had brought together an international group of government officials to visit Microsoft Research’s annual TechFest.  Tuesday was the “Public Day” with the media and outsiders allowed, so we spent that day at the Microsoft Convention Center with Craig Mundie, Rick Rashid, and a hundred others, but Wednesday morning we offered a series of side briefings for the group at Microsoft’s Executive Briefing Center, on topics of interest to large government and defense agencies.  Topic one was data centers.

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