14th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, at Redmond campus, which started on Monday and concluded a day later, was attended by 400 elite academic researchers from 200 institutions and 29 countries to explore hot trends and burning issues in computer science research.
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates for the first time since 2005 set the Summit's tone by addressing how computing can help solve global problems as the event's opening keynote speaker. He talked on various topics including: how technology has helped the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation make an impact around the globe.
Gates also talked about how far computing has come since 1975, when his vision included "A computer on every desk in every home." Now, he said, it's not just one computer but also those in your pocket, and other mobile devices.
He said that there's always been a gap between what we can do with software and what most people do, and that research can make software better. He also touches on personal digital assistants that help find gifts and plan trips, which reminded him of Microsoft Bob.
Microsoft Bob, a short-lived digital assistant in Windows 95, "tried a little personality that was definitely premature. I think it will reemerge, but perhaps with a wee bit more sophistication. We were just ahead of our time, like most of our mistakes."
In the video Bill talking about Microsoft Bob:
Also, details about the rumored smart watch "Microsoft Surface Watch" apparently emerged on the web, stating that the prototypes of this watch are housed in an expensive translucent "Oxynitride Aluminum," that's no less than 80 percent transparency, but 4 times harder than glass.
On top of that, the prototypes feature removable and colorful wrist bands.
Microsoft had reportedly asked Asian suppliers to ship components of a potential touch-enabled watch with a 1.5 inch display.
According to report a custom tailored version of Windows 8 with 4G LTE capabilities will power the Surface Watch. And, will have an 6GB of internal storage for the operating system.
Microsoft is also focusing on the idea of having removable wrist bands, which include a variety of colors such as blue, red, black, white, yellow, and grey.
And, finally the watch doesn't need a permanent connection to a smartphone, as Microsoft will be relying on cloud storage for this Surface Watch "obviously provided by SkyDrive." It will be compatible with Windows Phones for push notifications and music playback options.
To help researchers spend their time conducting experiments instead of developing software infrastructure, the Lab of Things (Lot) - a research-device platform based on Microsoft Research's HomeOS system - lets them interconnect devices and scale up their field studies in diverse experiment locations.
"The LoT allows virtually any type of device to be interconnected to the infrastructure. It also comes with a set of cloud services that support deployment of experiments at scale. The LoT monitoring portal provides near real-time status of all the sites in a study," explained Microsoft.