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.

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