Choicelessness

Modus Ponens

Posted in programming, work by johnsnavely on March 1, 2009

Last Friday, the video that I’d worked on with my team (the Envisioning Team in Office Labs) had its first public showing.

Stephen Elop, President of the Microsoft Business Division, showed the video at a conference at the Wharton School of Business. His speech, and the video, can be viewed here:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/Officesoftwareplusservices/vision.mspx

Our team also built the pan and zoom software for his presentation. Soon there will be a hi-res public version of the video. Eventually, I expect a version of the presentation software available too. Although in the meantime, Office Labs has built pan and zoom plug-ins for PowerPoint and OneNote, which you can download for free. (At some point, I’d like to post some images of the designs and rough renders I made for the hardware props in the video.)

Like many things, there’s a lag time between when things happen inside Microsoft and when they’re released to the public. Of course, the issues of productization and IP are complicated and some betas are too ugly to release into the wild. There’s also the intense criticism MS projects receive from the public. Reading the comments on the last Envisioning video on YouTube (which nobody should do) is intimidating. I guess it’s no worse than an architecture crit.

Microsoft, however, is getting better and better at opening its doors. The latency on the video was only a couple months.

There were a couple of projects that Stephen Elop mentioned in his speech that are public, but haven’t been made into products. I thought I’d call out two of them, both from Microsoft Research. Even though these videos are kind of old and the technology simple, there are some really smart ideas in there: the interactive applications/implications are (imho) pretty exciting.

Here’s NanoTouch (I played Unreal Tournament on this device and it was sweet.) :

And Secondlight:

These projects represent a very small part of the many, many projects at Microsoft. Part of what I do is try and find connections between things, ask how our daily life might be affected by certain technological shifts, and listen to how people are already creating their own ways of working. It’s a fallible process, certainly, but there’s a lot of value in the questions themselves.

Addendum: Looks like NYTimes covered the same projects at Techfest! (thanks, vrex)

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