I am attending Microsoft TechFest 2008 where Microsoft’s research labs from around the world will showcase their best work (36 demos). At the opening dinner we had a demo of the impressive Worldwide Telescope that was presented on February 27 at the TED conference (see the video). Curtis Wong, principal researcher of Microsoft’s Next Media Research group presented the project. Users can browse this virtual universe and get some information either from top scientists by launching audio files from pop up windows or by accessing other related sources on the Internet. The site allows them to create their guided tour of the universe by recording a video of their browsing experience with their personal comments. We saw a tour done by a 6 years old boy. And of course (we are in the social web era!), users can share with others. Socializing within the universe, wow!
The website will be available for Spring: www.worldwidetelescope.org
During the event, I met P. Anandan Managing Director of Microsoft Research Lab in India and we had an interesting conversation with him and his colleagues Vidya Natampally and Kentaro Toyama about the different ways people are using mobile phones in emerging markets. For example, Kentaro told me that in India, the voicemail is never used. I could live there! I do not like voicemail, just like James Siminoff, SimulScribe founder.
At the end, Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President of External Research, told me a bit more about the various projects Microsoft is conducting to help scientists around the world by providing them with innovative custom software solutions. One great example is the anti-spam software that Microsoft re-purposed to help the HIV research.