Microsoft Previews Surreal Future

Plunk your digital camera down on a specially-equipped table and all of the images stored within the camera are projected onto the surface in a nice fan fold, as if someone took the time to lay them out. Or how about getting help from a remote colleague who projects a virtual image of her hands […]

Plunk your digital camera down on a specially-equipped table and all of the images stored within the camera are projected onto the surface in a nice fan fold, as if someone took the time to lay them out. Or how about getting help from a remote colleague who projects a virtual image of her hands to point out corrections in a document? Forget what you did last week? Look it up on your LifeBrowser, which tracks and records where you went on the Web, what you worked on and who you met with.

It may all sound futuristic, at least for near term commercial deployment, but Microsoft Research said it's running all these applications for real. "This is not simulation, it's all done with a standard PC, very complex software and machine vision tricks," Eric Horvitz, principal researcher at Microsoft, told internetnews.com. Horvitz spoke on a panel here today at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, along with research executives from Intel and IBM. Horvitz said he's been using a prototype of the LifeBrowser for several years and has found it invaluable.

"The fact that people haven't been able to capture all their life events like this is a disaster," he said. "I'd like to see LifeBrowser in common use in the next three to five years." The system is more than a browser tracking system, it also involves software and sensors that would, for example, record how much time you spent working on a document. Using a graphical slider you could go back to call up the specific Web sites you visited on a specific day or what files you used.

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