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RealTime IT News

Sneak Peek Into Microsoft Research

NEW YORK -- When Microsoft Research chief Rick Rashid looks into his crystal ball, he sees a world where technological advancements in data storage and networked communication will let humans keep track of every aspect of their daily lives.

During a keynote presentation at the WWW Conference here, Rashid outlined the dramatic changes over the last ten years, when Microsoft Research moved from empowering the Internet to newer projects aimed at empowering the individual.

With the cost of data storage dropping to levels in which a terabyte of space will cost no more than $1,000, Rashid said the time will come when deleting data will be a thing of the past.

"There won't be reason for anyone to throw away any data," Rashid said. "We'll get to the stage where, for $1,000, you will be able to store more than a trillion bytes...More than enough space to store every conversation you have ever had, from the time you are born to the time you die."

Rashid, who is credited with co-development of "Alto Trek," one of the earliest networked computer games, said lab rats at Microsoft Research were busy working to make the connection between a user's emotion to the data on their computers.

He provided a sneak peek of "Stuff I've Seen", a prototype tool that lets users find information that was previously seen or used. With "Stuff I've Seen," he said PC users to annotate and tag computer and Web data for future use. The data could be in the form of e-mails, attachments, files, Web pages, appointments or tablet journal entries. It provides an interface to allow quick sorting, filtering, previews and thumbnails.

Rashid also introduced the audience to SenseCam, a digital camera prototype that can be worn around the neck to snap thousands of photographs every day. The cam can take a digital snapshot of every step and every movement and store it to tell a particular story.

"This is the extension of the digital camera that everyone is using today," he said, while offering a glimpse of a typical photo story captured by SenseCam.

Staying with the theme of connecting "memories" to data, he provided an overview of an online database project called World-Wide Media eXchange (WWMX) that lets amateur photographers submit digital images that can be indexed by location. The project is focused on exploring the possibilities inherent in associating digital photographs with the location where they were shot.

Rashid also spoke about the "SkyServer" Web site, which attempts to provide a complete map of the skies visible from the Northern Hemisphere.