Category Archives: Microsoft

Create Multi-lingual Content for Wikipedia with WikiBhasha

Wikipedia is one of the world’s largest and perhaps the biggest crowd-sourced information repository. However, it is heavily English-centric. Today, Wikipedia has more than 14 Million articles in over 270 languages. Wikipedia lists 3.36+ million pages in English, while a long tail of the bottom 200+ languages constitute a collective 2 million articles. WikiBhasha helps the process of enhancing non-English Wikipedia content, and provides an easy to use, intuitive interface to create local language content without the user ever having to leave the Wikipedia site.

wikibhasha

WikiBhasha is multilingual content creation tool for Wikipedia and enables easy and quick translation of articles from English to more than 30 other languages that are supported by Microsoft’s Machine Translation system and Microsoft’s Collaborative Translation Framework.   WikiBhasha is much more than a translator and also allows users to create new articles from scratch. The browser based application features a UI layer that stays on the target language Wikipedia for the entire content creation process. It enables Wikipedia users and contributors to explore and source content from English Wikipedia articles, translate the content into a set of target languages, and use the content with user additions and corrections for contribution to the target language Wikipedia.

WikiBhasha—Wiki,signifying its community-oriented approach; Bhasha,a Sanskrit word meaning language—was developed by Microsoft Research India. It started as a research prototype with a text-based interface. The team behind WikiBhasha is led by A Kumaran, Research Manager in the   Multilingual Systems Research group at Microsoft Research India.

WikiBhasha might open the doors to a whole new world of content translation into languages that machine translators now ignore. The goal is to enhance the Wikipedia content, as well as increasing availability of multilingual content.

Build Smart Gadgets Quick and Easy with .NET Gadgeteer

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio or Visual C# Express. This allows embedded and handheld devices to be built and programmed quickly and easily. .NET Gadgeteer was devised by the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Now, the open-source project is maintained by Microsoft and is intended to enable hardware designers to build and release .NET Gadgeteer-compatible products.

gadgeteer

A .NET Gadgeteer system is composed of a mainboard containing an embedded processor and an array of modules which connect to the mainboard through a simple plug-and-play interface. There are lots of .NET Gadgeteer modules available today: display, camera, networking, storage, input controls, and more. A variety of hardware vendors are building components for .NET Gadgeteer. The first .NET Gadgeteer hardware – Fez Spider kit by GHI Electronics is also available now.

.NET Gadgeteer devices are programmed in C# using the .NET Micro Framework. .NET Micro Framework is an open source platform that expands the power and versatility of .NET to the world of small embedded applications. This allows developers to use their existing knowledge of .NET programming on the desktop, Web or phone to embedded devices.

With a modular hardware architecture and powerful software, .NET Gadgeteer allows even someone with little or no electronics background to build devices made up of components like sensors, lights, switches, displays, communications, motor controllers, and much more. It is a great tool for hobbyists as well as for educators and researchers to quickly develop prototypes.

Microsoft Announces a Contest for Security Researchers

Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group has announced a new initiative to inspire computer security researchers to focus on security defense technologies. The announcement was made today at the Black Hat 2011 security conference in Las Vegas. The inaugural Microsoft BlueHat Prize intends to encourage the world’s most talented researchers and academics to tackle key security challenges and generate original ideas to protect customers and provide a more secure computing experience.

bluehat

The BlueHat Prize is the first and largest award offered by Microsoft for defensive computer security technology. With over a quarter million dollars in cash and prizes, the BlueHat Prize will motivate the community and foster greater collaboration with researchers across the industry. Researchers will own the intellectual property from their inventions and Microsoft will be able to use the technology under a royalty-free license.

Microsoft wants to encourage more security experts to think about ways to reduce threats to computing devices. We’re looking to collaborate with others to build solutions to tough industry problems. We believe the BlueHat Prize will encourage the world’s most talented researchers and academics to tackle key security challenges and offer them a chance to impact the world.

– Katie Moussouris, senior security strategist lead for the Microsoft Security Response Center

The contest challenges security researchers to design innovative solutions to address serious security threats such as Data Execution Prevention (DEP) which helps prevent attacks that attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in software. The solution considered to be the most innovative by the Microsoft BlueHat Prize board will be presented the grand prize of US $200,000. A second prize of US $50,000 and a third prize of MSDN Universal subscription (valued at US $10,000) will also be given away.

The contest entries should be emailed to [email protected] between August 3rd 2011 to April 1st 2012. Microsoft will judge entries based on practicality and functionality, robustness, and the impact. The winning entry will be announced at Black Hat USA 2012.

Microsoft Touch Mouse: How Microsoft Took a Concept from Research to Product

It is fascinating to learn that it took a collection of prototypes, collaboration between transatlantic teams, and a lot of user testing to bring Microsoft Touch Mouse to market. The Microsoft Touch Mouse project was unusual compared with other hardware-development projects, because it combined multiple disciplines in a tightly integrated way.

Microsoft Touch Mouse

The joint research effort between Microsoft Research Redmond, Microsoft Research Cambridge, and Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group introduced five different multi-touch mice prototypes. The research paper, titled Mouse 2.0: Multi-touch Meets the Mouse, presents novel input devices that combine the standard capabilities of a computer mouse with multi-touch sensing. Each prototype explored a different touch-sensing strategy that influenced the design of different mouse form factors and their interaction possibilities.

Humans are naturally dexterous and use their fingers and thumbs to perform a variety of complex interactions to a high precision. The traditional computer mouse design, however, makes little use of this dexterity, reducing our hands to a single cursor on the screen. Our fingers are often relegated to performing relatively simple actions such as clicking the mouse buttons or rolling the mouse wheel. With the emergence of multi-touch, we now have the opportunity to manipulate digital content with increased dexterity.

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FTIR Mouse applies the principle of frustrated total internal reflection to illuminate a user’s fingers, and uses a camera to track multiple points of touch on its curved translucent surface

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Orb Mouse is equipped with an internal camera and a source of diffuse IR illumination, allowing it to track the user’s hand on its hemispherical surface.

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Cap Mouse (short for capacitive mouse) employs a matrix of capacitive touch-sensing electrodes to track the position of the user’s fingertips over its surface.

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Side Mouse rests under the palm of hand, allowing fingers to touch the table surface directly in front of the device. These are sensed using an internal camera and IR laser.

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Arty Mouse is equipped with three high-resolution optical mouse sensors: one in the base, which rests under the user’s palm, and two under the articulated extensions that follow the movements of the index finger and thumb.

 

The research team intended to refine their prototypes, both ergonomically and in terms of their sensing capabilities. Therefore, Microsoft Hardware decided to get behind the research, and a team was formed to bring a multi-touch mouse to market. The close collaboration between the hardware team and Microsoft Research in both Cambridge and Redmond went beyond just technology transfer.

The design of the final form factor required sculpting and testing of hundreds of models. The team also examined user interactions and evaluated the kinds of gestures that made sense. The multi-touch gestures are designed to amplify your experience with Windows 7, and are optimized for window management. The design also involved a challenge requiring that users should be able to operate the device using classic point-and-click interactions as well as the newly developed set of multi-touch gestures.

The delightful, fluid desktop experience of Microsoft Touch Mouse is a testimony to the value of the value of quality research to explore new possibilities.

Data Analytics on Windows Azure

Project Daytona is designed to support a wide class of data analytics and machine learning algorithms. The project, code-named Daytona, is built on Windows Azure and employs the available Windows Azure compute and data services to offer a scalable and high-performance system for data analytics. Project Daytona is part of an active research and development project in the eXtreme Computing Group of Microsoft Research and made its debut at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit  last week.

Researchers in a wide range of domains, such as healthcare, education, and environmental science, have large and growing data collections, and they need simple tools to help them find signals in their data and uncover insights. Project Dayton is available, as a free download, so that researchers can use it to set up their own large-scale, cloud data-analysis service on Windows Azure. Almost any application that involves data manipulation and analysis can take advantage of Project Daytona. Project Daytona explores a specific use case: Data analytics as a service on Windows Azure.

Project Daytona is designed for the cloud, specifically for Windows Azure and for cloud storage services. It consumes data with minimum overhead and with the ability to recover from failures. Project Daytona is horizontally scalable and elastic. This allows you to focus on your data exploration without having to worry about acquiring compute capacity or time-consuming hardware setup and management. Since algorithms in data analytics and machine learning are often iterative, Project Daytona provides support for iterative computations in its core runtime.

The current release of Project Daytona is a research technology preview (RTP). The team continues to tune the performance of Project Daytona and work on adding new functionality.

Microsoft’s Cloud OS To Streamline Experience Across Your Phone, Desktop & TV

I decided to skip writing about these patents because gesture patents don’t really excite me since I don’t think they should be granted. However, now that Tom at Winrumors has taken the trouble of sharing the information, I thought I’d share some details.

cloud-os

Gesture patents having cloud in their descriptions get my attention. Last time around, I came across a patent that explained custom Kinect gestures as roaming profiles (it is as cool as it sounds). Reading through patents I found the relevant cloud part that explains some very intriguing possibilities. Microsoft is rumored to be working towards a one-codebase across the Xbox, Windows Phone and Desktop/Tablet after Windows 8 and these patent applications fit in that vision. (I wouldn’t be surprised if 4 years from now I tell someone that I knew about this feature.)

The engineers try to explain how Natural User Interfaces are now being used to interact with the television (Xbox Kinect), touch phones and tablets. These screens have different user interaction experiences and so does the desktop. Microsoft hopes to have all your devices connected to a cloud server farm. This server farm will push out gesture profiles based on the device you are using (or something like that).

the central computing device is a “cloud” server farm […] this interconnection architecture enables functionality to be delivered across multiple devices to provide a common and seamless experience to the user […] Each of the multiple devices may have different physical requirements and capabilities, and the central computing device uses a platform to enable the delivery of an experience to the device that is both tailored to the device and yet common to all devices.

The cloud is illustrated as including a platform for web services. The platform abstracts underlying functionality of hardware (e.g., servers) and software resources of the cloud and thus may act as a “cloud operating system.”

For example, the platform may abstract resources to connect the computing device with other computing devices.

Accordingly, in an interconnected device embodiment, implementation of functionality of the gesture module may be distributed throughout the system. For example, the gesture module may be implemented in part on the computing device as well as via the platform that abstracts the functionality of the cloud.

As I said, the possibilities described are exciting. Nilay Patel wrote about the one Windows for all screens and the patent explains the benefits of the concept – load balancing, malware protection and performance scalability.

Microsoft’s patent also explains how they plan to implement stylus and finger touch working together in their multi-touch products. Based on the spread-size of the object touching, the system will be able to distinguish between the stylus and the fingers.

Patent Application

Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2011

The twelfth Microsoft Research Faculty Summit was held last week from July 18 through 20 at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. For the past 11 years, the summit has brought academic and government research professionals together to provide a forum for lively debate of the development, application, and funding of technologies in the environmental, medical, and educational domains.

Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2011

Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer at Microsoft, presented the keynote at the event along with the leadership from Microsoft Research – Peter Lee, Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director, Lili Cheng, General Manager, FUSE Labs, and Rick Szeliski, Principal Researcher. Apart from the keynotes, the summit featured talks, panels, workshops, and demonstrations. The event encourages research by  highlighting the value of industrial research in society, education, and technology transfer and recognizing academic researchers for their contributions.

The summit features a Design Expo where student groups present their work to leading academic researchers and educators. This allows students to hone their presentation skills, and gain valuable feedback from notable design leaders from inside and outside of Microsoft. Each year, Microsoft Research sponsors a semester-long class at leading design schools. Representative teams from these schools participate at the Design Expo.

At the summit, Microsoft Research also gave away the 2011 Faculty Fellowship Awards. Microsoft believes that an able faculty is vital to the future of academic computer science, and the fellowship program stimulates and supports creative research undertaken by promising researchers who have the potential to make a profound impact on the field of computing and of becoming thought leaders in the field.

How-To View and Edit RAW Photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery

Microsoft has released Microsoft Camera Codec Pack that enables the viewing of a variety of device-specific file formats. The codec pack allows you to import, organize, and edit RAW files without using third-party plugins or applications.

A RAW file is the uncompressed output from each of the original pixels on the camera’s image sensors. RAW files have higher image quality than JPEG files and have more image information. Microsoft Camera Codec Pack lets you view RAW files from over 120 digital SLR devices in Windows Live Photo Gallery as well as in Windows Explorer. The files can also be viewed in other applications that are based on Windows Imaging Codecs (WIC). This pack is available in both the x86 and x64 versions for Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows 7.

Once the codec pack is installed, you can edit copies of your RAW images in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Within Photo Gallery, make a JPEG or JPEG-XR (or HD-photo) copy of the original photo, and then apply different editing effects available. You can even use the RAW files to stitch panoramas using Photo Gallery.

The Microsoft Camera Codec Pack provides support for the following device formats:

  • Canon: EOS 1000D (EOS Kiss F in Japan and the EOS Rebel XS in North America), EOS 10D, EOS 1D Mk2, EOS 1D Mk3, EOS 1D Mk4, EOS 1D Mk2 N, EOS 1Ds Mk2, EOS 1Ds Mk3, EOS 20D, EOS 300D (the Kiss Digital in Japan and the Digital Rebel in North America) , EOS 30D, EOS 350D (the Canon EOS Kiss Digital N in Japan and EOS Digital Rebel XT in North America), EOS 400D (the Kiss Digital X in Japan and the Digital Rebel XTi in North America), EOS 40D, EOS 450D (EOS Kiss X2 in Japan and the EOS Rebel XSi in North America), EOS 500D (EOS Kiss X3 in Japan and the EOS Rebel T1i in North America), EOS 550D (EOS Kiss X4 in Japan, and as the EOS Rebel T2i in North America), EOS 50D, EOS 5D, EOS 5D Mk2, EOS 7D, EOS D30, EOS D60, G2, G3, G5, G6, G9, G10, G11, Pro1, S90
  • Nikon: D100, D1H, D200, D2H, D2Hs, D2X, D2Xs, D3, D3s, D300, D3000, D300s, D3X, D40, D40x, D50, D5000, D60, D70, D700, D70s, D80, D90, P6000
  • Sony: A100, A200, A230, A300, A330, A350, A380, A700, A850, A900, DSC-R1
  • Olympus: C7070, C8080, E1, E10, E20, E3, E30, E300, E330, E400, E410, E420, E450, E500, E510, E520, E620, EP1
  • Pentax (PEF formats only): K100D, K100D Super, K10D, K110D, K200D, K20D, K7, K-x, *ist D, *ist DL, *ist DS
  • Leica: Digilux 3, D-LUX4, M8, M9
  • Minolta: DiMage A1, DiMage A2, Maxxum 7D (Dynax 7D in Europe, α-7 Digital in Japan)
  • Epson: RD1
  • Panasonic: G1, GH1, GF1, LX3

Microsoft Launches New R&D Facility in Bangalore

Today, Microsoft  launched a new state-of-the-art research & development facility in Bangalore, India. Dr Qi Lu, President, Online Services Division, Microsoft inaugurated Vigyan, the swank new 154,000 sq. ft. facility is situated in the heart of the city. Vigyan in Hindi language means Science’.

vigyanvigyaan-cakemicrosoft-idc

Vigyan is now home to researchers from Microsoft Research India and Microsoft India Development Center (MSIDC) team that works on Microsoft adCenter. Microsoft IDC’s first centre was set up in Hyderabad in 1998. The Hyderabad campus along with the Beijing one are Microsoft’s biggest R&D facilities outside of the United States. At MSIDC, Hyderabad, Microsoft Research India was established in 2005.   Dr. P Anandan, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India was also present at the inauguration.

vigyan-inaugration

The decision to set up our second R&D centre in Bangalore reinforces Microsoft’s commitment towards India.   – Dr. Qi Lu

After the search alliance between Bing and Yahoo last year, Microsoft extended engineering efforts in Bangalore. Also, several Yahoo employees moved to Microsoft as part of the alliance. Microsoft has several facilities in Bangalore already that house  Microsoft Global Training Support Center (GTSC), Microsoft Research India, and different teams from Microsoft’s business groups like Sales & Marketing Support Group  (SMSG) and Developer & Platfrom Evangelism (DPE).

Photos Courtesy: Microsoft India Development Center

Microsoft Announces WP7 Mango RTM Hours Before Fujitsu’s WP7 Handset Unveiling

Fujitsu will be unveiling the first Windows Phone 7 Mango device a few hours from now. And Microsoft just dropped a bomb on us.

Speculated and rubbished a few days ago were claims of Windows Phone 7 reaching the all-important RTM (Release to Manufacturing) milestone. (It means Microsoft’s finished the code and handed it to partners to get it to the customers.) The excitement was short lived but our hopes of getting WP7 Mango on our phones by the holiday season remained strong.

Today, those hopes were bolstered by Microsoft signing off on Windows Phone 7 Mango. As of now, developers have access to Mango Beta which while stable has some features missing. Mango reaching RTM also means, Microsoft will start pushing out the update to carriers. Microsoft’s experience with the past two Windows Phone 7    updates was not pleasant. Unlike the previous updates, Microsoft and partners are expected to see a smoother roll out this time around.

At their Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft showed 4 new Windows Phone 7 handsets. Fujitsu is expected to officially unveil the waterproof phone at an event in Tokyo.

You can catch a live stream of the Fujitsu event below:

Microsoft Evangelist To Donate $1000 If Web-Celebs Don’t Like WP7

Here’s something you don’t come across often. Microsoft developer evangelist Brandon Watson has decided to put a $1000 on the line if Internet-celebrities give Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 a try.

In a challenge that seems to be his idea, Watson is going after users who’ve had problems with Android and are considering the iPhone. A few hours ago, he commented on the widely-popular comic strip Dilbert’s blog where author Scott Adams ranted about Android’s battery. Watson’s challenge is he will send Scott a Windows Phone 7 developer device (running mango) for Scott to try and if Scott doesn’t like it, Watson will donate a $1000 to any charity of Scott’s choice.

Watson extended this challenge to CNET reporter Molly Wood who complained about having issues with her Droid X. This definitely is a ballsy move and I have to say, Brandon Watson is changing the rules of the game. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s competitors can’t say, “I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson.”

Update: Molly Wood has accepted the challenge. And so has Scott Adams.

Microsoft Hoping To Reduce Xbox Production Costs With New Motherboards

Till a few months back I used to look at new job openings within Microsoft to find information about their new products, now I am searching for a job. Going through the new positions, I came across one where Microsoft talks about updates to the Xbox.

There is little known about what Microsoft is planning. The Xbox 360 has so far been getting incremental hardware upgrades and many are thinking about how Microsoft will be furthering the boundaries of innovation in entertainment with a new Xbox – the Xbox 720. A recent job opening describes Microsoft’s plans to reduce the (production) costs of an Xbox. The Xbox team hopes to get this done by designing a new motherboard for the Xbox.

For those keeping tabs, with the Xbox 360 Slim or Xbox 360 2010  Microsoft introduced a new motherboard design codenamed Vejle. Vejle’s single chip design (CPU+GPU+Memory) allowed engineers to improve the cooling for the console and also with the on-chip memory, one could access more features without an HDD or memory card. Microsoft is looking to improve this design. The job description explains:

 The team is responsible for the design and aggressive cost reduction of the console throughout the life of the product as well as expanding the market for the console in derivative products.

The responsibilities of this position are focused on specifying, designing (schematic capture, PCB layout, BOM, cost analysis), implementing and verifying subsystems on the Xbox motherboard. This includes development of subsystem requirements by working with team members evaluating different solution options for functionality, cost and risk, developing the solution, implementing it, verifying it and supporting it in production. […]

The hardware design for computers has seen radical changes and it is now becoming an engineering challenge to keep systems cool, reduce size and perform better. It will be interesting to get a look at how Microsoft engineers achieve this.

Breakdown Of The Patents Against Kinect & A Look At Microsoft’s Patent Portfolio

A hot, boring, lazy Friday just turned exciting. As we reported earlier, Microsoft has been sued by Ohio based Impulse Technology Limited. Impulse claims that the Xbox Kinect infringes 7 patents the company owns. I have been closely following Microsoft’s patent portfolio for quite a while. Microsoft has been filing for several (and I mean) several patent relating to body movements, gestures and Kinect. I have done a quick preliminary search to find some of the patents. There are more, the search on USPTO is more broken than their patent system.

Going through the patent applications and Impulse’s statement, the case seems more against how Kinect Fitness leverages body scanning, room environment for health stuff. The patent claims are broad and also cover some of Kinect’s key operations. Here’s what Impulse has sued Microsoft for:

The first claim in 3 of the 7 patents (6,430,997 6,876,496 & 6,308,565) is the same. Way to go patent lawyers.

A testing and training system comprising a continuous tracking system for determining changes in an overall physical location of a player, in a defined physical space; a computer operatively coupled to the tracking system for updating in real time a player virtual location in a virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space, for updating a view of the virtual space, and for providing at least one indicia of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicia is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

Patent 6,430,997 has 30 claims, some key ones:

A reactive power training system comprising: a reactive training device which provides cues to elicit responsive changes in an overall physical location of a subject in at least two dimensions; and a resistive training device; wherein the reactive training device and the resistive training device are used in a training sequence.

A method of reactive power training for a user using a reactive training device and one or more resistive training devices, comprising: performing a training sequence, wherein the performing the training sequence includes: exercising utilizing the reactive training device, to perform reactive training bouts; and performing resistive strength enhancing activities on the one or more resistive training devices, to perform resistive training bouts; wherein the reactive training bouts are alternated with the resistive training bouts.

marker worn by the subject, wherein the reactive training device tracks movement of the marker.

a transmitter worn by the subject which transmits information to the reactive training device without being physically connected to the reactive training device.

wherein the information includes an identification of the subject.

wherein the information includes the subject’s heart rate.

wherein the transmitter acts as a marker, allowing the reactive training device to track location of the subject.

Claim #2 and #3 are Kinect Fitness. The rest of the claims I’ve listed also relate to Kinect Fitness. However, Kinect does not use any such transmitter device, sensor does all the magic. Kinect Fitness however does receive feedback about the user’s body. The Kinect sensor can be considered as the reactive device in this case.

Patent 6,765,726 has 16 claims:

A multiuser physical assessment system comprising: a first tracking system for determining changes in a first overall physical location of a first user within a first physical space; a second tracking system for determining changes in a second overall physical location of a second user within a second physical space; and at least one computer operatively coupled to the tracking systems for updating user virtual locations in a virtual space corresponding to the physical locations of the users; wherein performance of at least one of the users in the virtual space is modified so as to handicap one of the users relative to the other user.

[…] first and second displays operatively coupled to the at least one computer, wherein the displays display respective views of the virtual space; wherein the displays display different views of the virtual space; wherein the tracking systems are both continuous three-dimensional tracking systems; and wherein the at least one computer updates in real time the user virtual locations in the virtual space.

[…] wherein the first view includes first virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users; and wherein the second view includes second virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users.

All claims in this application are related to how Kinect works.

Patent 6,876,496 has 20 claims:

the computer provides at least one indicium of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicium is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

the view of the virtual space includes a player icon located at the player virtual location.

the updating of the protagonist virtual location is made in response to the changes in the physical location of the player, such that the virtual protagonist and the player engage in an interactive task.

These claims, again, go on to cover how Kinect tracks the users and displays it. Instead of an icon, Kinect shows a translucent 2D figure.

Patent 7,359,121 has 27 claims. Key claims:

A method for prompting a user to engage in a physical activity, the method comprising: causing displaying of a representation of the user on a monitor, wherein the displaying of the representation includes moving the representation of the user to reflect movement of the user; causing displaying of one or more virtual objects on the monitor, wherein the displaying of the one or more virtual objects includes displaying the one or more virtual objects to prompt physical motion of the user […]

[…] displaying the virtual objects of the method includes prompting the user to perform an interception task that includes the representation of the user moving to have the representation of the user intercept at least some of the targets.

Prompting user to engage in a physical activity, is more of what Microsoft & Kinect game advertisers are doing. Having said that, this patent is about Kinect, a moving representation of the user is the 2D figure we see in games.

Patent 7,791,808 with 20 claims:

the tracking system continuously tracks an overall physical location of the user in a defined physical space corresponding to the virtual space; wherein the computer updates in real time a user virtual location in the virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space; and wherein the viewpoint of the view is from the user virtual location.

the view is a first person view

he first person view is a first person perspective view

the tracking system tracks the translations in three dimensions

the tracking system includes a beacon worn by the user

the tracking system includes a camera

All claims, except user wearing a beacon are how Kinect works.

Patent 6,749,432 with 18 claims has a funny title: Education system challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function

A method of educating comprising: prompting a person to engage in body core movement which elevates the person’s metabolic rate; and prompting the person to engage in a cognitive academic learning task while the person’s metabolic rate is elevated, wherein the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task includes displaying a view of a virtual space, and wherein the promoting to engage in body core movement and the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task both include promoting the person to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task.

he updating a view includes updating a first person perspective view of the virtual space from the virtual location

prompting to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task includes prompting the person to engage in interactive challenges that involve manipulation of objects in a virtual world by body core movement of the person in a defined physical space

further including ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation

including adjusting the prompting to engage in body core movement to maintain the metabolic rate elevation at a desired level

ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation includes monitoring the person’s heart rate

These claims would be akin to Kinect Fitness including a freaky 3D doctor telling you why you need to do certain exercises. This patent application deals with Kinect Fitness and maybe broadly apply to other games.

Patent 6,208,565 has a 100 claims. Most of these claims are slight modifications of claims in the other patents or exactly the same. Once again, way to go patent lawyers.

These are the 7 patents Impulse has sued Microsoft. Now let’s take a look at a fraction of the Kinectgesture patents Microsoft has applied for.

Patents 20110032336 20110109724 20100194872 deal with body scanning:

A device for capturing depth information of a scene, the device comprising: a camera component, wherein the camera component receives a depth image of the scene; and a processor, wherein the processor executes computer executable instructions, and wherein the computer executable instructions comprise instructions for: receiving the depth image of the scene from the camera component; determining whether the depth image includes a human target; scanning the human target to locate at least a first joint, if the depth image includes a human target […]

A 3D user scanning device, using cameras.

Patent 20110035666 is about displaying the position of a user on the screen. (Something Impulse has claimed.) The abstract of the patent says:

A capture device may capture a user’s motion and a display device may display a model that maps to the user’s motion, including gestures that are applicable for control.

A claim from the patent:

A method for determining whether to provide feedback, the method comprising: receiving image data for a scene, wherein the image data comprises depth data representative of a target’s motion or position in a physical space; comparing the depth data representative of the target’s motion or position in the physical space […]

Patent 20110085705 is about scanning props (or objects as Impulse has mentioned in their applications):

acquiring one or more color images from one or more color sensing image sensors, the step of performing prop tracking includes using color information from the one or more color images to help track the second target.

the step of performing skeletal tracking includes receiving position information regarding the second target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the first position of the first target.

the step of performing prop tracking includes receiving position information regarding the first target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the second position of the second target.

receiving orientation information from the first prop, the step of performing prop tracking uses the orientation information to help track the first prop.

Kinect allows you to scan your own skateboard and use it in a game.

Patent 20100195867 is about tracking the user as he moves. Impulse has this in their patent claims. Microsoft’s claims include focusing on the user by ignoring non-target items from the background and some pretty smart algorithms to track the user’s movements:

[…] analyzing the observed depth image with a hand-identifying algorithm configured to identify hands on the human target; and increasing relative confidence of the exemplar pose if the exemplar pose more closely places hands in a same location as the hand-identifying algorithm […]

removing non-target background information from the observed depth image includes removing depth image information outside of a sphere surrounding the target

the source includes a depth camera

the source includes stereo cameras

Patent 20100278384 complements the above patent and is about estimating the human body’s pose.

Patent 20100195869, 20100197395, 20100197400, 20100197391, 20100197392 & 20100197399 are titled Visual Target Tracking and are related to tracking the human body movements. Claim from 20100195869:

A method of tracking a human target, the method comprising: representing the human target with a machine-readable model configured for adjustment into a plurality of different poses

One of the newer patents I came across yesterday is about multi-user tracking. This is also there somewhere in Impulse’s claims. Patent 20110175809

A processor-implemented method for tracking multiple people in a motion capture system, comprising the processor-implemented steps of: tracking at least one group which includes a first group, the first group comprises peoples’ bodies in a field of view of the motion capture system, the tracking includes detecting the peoples’ bodies in the field of view

Patent 20100306685 is having the user’s avatars on screen as feedback about the user’s physical movements. Claim from the application:

method for providing feedback to a user about a computing environment, the method comprising: recognizing, using an image-based capture device, a presence of a first user in a capture area; associating a first avatar with the first user and displaying the first avatar on a display screen; recognizing aspects of the first user within the capture area; and modifying an appearance of the first avatar to provide feedback to the first user about at least one of capabilities, features, rights or permissions of the first user in the computing environment.

Most of the Microsoft patent I’ve listed here are yet to approved. Whereas Impulse has approved patents. How that plays out will have to be seen. The patents I’ve listed are only those I could find, there are more. Kinect is a product developed using 3D camera trcking technology developed by PrimeSense. I have not looked into patent held by them or whether the patents were  transferred  to Microsoft.

Everything You Need to Know About Malware and Microsoft’s Defense

Malware, popular term for malicious software, is a software program designed to damage a user’s computer, a server, or network; or to steal personal or sensitive information of a user or defrauding the user through online scams.

What are Different Types of Malware?

  • Rogue security software: Rogue security software masquerades as legitimate security software or Microsoft Update user interface. Fake alerts scare users into thinking that their computer has been compromised and clicking the suggested link to resolve the issue which instead stealthily   downloads malware to the computer.
  • Password stealers: A password stealer transmits personal information such as user names and passwords that an unsuspicious user enters while browsing the web or using applications on the computer.
  • Keyloggers: A keylogger sends keystrokes or screenshots to an attacker. The information can be then used to ascertain passwords, bank account numbers, or any sensitive information that a user types.
  • Rootkits: A rootkit performs functions that a system administrator cannot easily detect or undo. A rootkit is often installed as part of a bundle of malware, where it hides itself and other malware that performs a more
    dangerous activity.
  • Viruses: Viruses are malware that replicate by infecting other files on the computer, thus allowing the execution of the malware code, and its propagation when those files are activated.
  • Worms: A worm is a self-propagating program that can automatically distribute itself from one computer to another.
  • Trojan horses: A trojan horse is an application that appears legitimate and useful, but performs malicious and illicit activity on an affected computer.
  • Spyware: Spyware collects information, such as the websites that a user visits, without user’s knowledge.

Why is Malware a Serious Problem?

Malware is a common weapon for cyber-criminals against individuals and organizations. Malware writers use constantly evolving techniques to make detecting and removing their software difficult. Often malware are deployed together as part of a large, sophisticated assault to recruit vulnerable computers into botnets. Botnets are attractive to criminals because they are easy to hide behind. Botnets harness the processing power, storage, and bandwidth of attacked computers to generate vast amounts of spam, hack websites, and commit online frauds.

Cab Driver Leaks Information About Microsoft’s Event

Close to 12,000 Microsoft employees have gathered at the Colorado Convention Centre for this year’s annual (internal) MGX (Microsoft Global Exchange) conference. The conference is for the product teams and executives to come together and discuss the product roadmaps & company strategy.

This year Microsoft has an active Twitter police protecting company secrets from making their way on to the social network. The memo however, did not extend to a cab driver.  According to a cab driver, Lady Gaga will be performing at the MGX conference. The information was slipped to one of the attendees who shared it on Twitter and it was spotted by Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet.

The past MGX conferences haven’t had a lot of details to write about.  MGX 2009 was where Microsoft confirmed the Release to Manufacturing (RTM) of Windows 7 and the biggest news coming out of MGX 2010 was a new set of logos for Microsoft products that later turned out to be hoax.

Windows 8 and Windows Phone are expected to be the consumer products on everyone’s minds. Microsoft’s tablet strategy depends on the next version of Windows and it will be in Microsoft’s best interests to get it right the first time.

Update:  The cab driver was wrong. Unfortunate.