Today, March 8, is the semi-public TechFest day, when certain invited guests get to peek at some of the projects that will be on display for Microsoft employees from March 8 to 10. This year's theme for Microsoft Research's TechFest research showcase is natural user interfaces.
While Microsoft's most celebrated example of how the company successfully commercialized its early NUI work is the Kinect Xbox sensor, there's also quite a bit of focus by Microsoft's NUI researchers on the intersection between NUI and healthcare. Microsoft's thinking about incorporating Surface 2, Xbox, Xbox Live and Kinect sensors into healthcare apps. There're a number of Microsoft Research projects exploring the NUI-health connection.
InnerEye is one of several projects, which's focused on "the automatic analysis of patients' (medical) scans using modern machine learning techniques," like semantic navigation and visualization.
Another area of NUI exploration, which doesn't seem to be on the TechFest 2011 agenda, is interacting without touching. Microsoft researchers are publishing a couple of new papers on this topic this year, one on image-guided interventional radiology (PDF), and another on brain-computer interaction.
Below is a video demonstration of the "ShadowDraw" an interactive assistant for freehand drawing. It automatically recognizes want you're trying to draw and suggests new pen strokes for you to trace. As you draw new strokes, ShadowDraw refines its models in real time and provides new suggestions. ShadowDraw contains a large database of images with objects that a user might want to draw. The edges from any images that match the user's current drawing are merged and shown as suggested "shadow strokes." The user then can trace these strokes to improve the drawing.
More Info: RIN (Rich Interactive Narrative)
Here's a list of the TechFest 2011 projects, NUI and non-NUI both, that the Softies are playing up this year.