Microsoft Research shows off the life after touch

February 27, 2011

By now we all experienced kinect one way or another and I personally really enjoy my kinect at home.

Kinect has been talked and hacked a lot and most people can see much more in it than just a game controller.

Looks like MS Research is thinking the same thing and in the video below they are showing off some cool things, like head tracking, glasses free 3D, gesture based interfaces and more.

As we all know from past experiences, these may or may not happen, but right now they are pretty cool.

thanks engadget

@maniac13


Microsoft Researchers bring the Scobleizer to tears.

February 15, 2008

A recent demo of some top-secret Microsoft technology magics brought Robert Scoble to tears. It doesn’t happen often, he claims, but that kind of reaction is one that he has had in the past when he sees “software that [he] know[s] will change the world [his] sons live in”.

Spake the Scobleizer on his blog:

“Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay, researchers at Microsoft, fired up their machines and showed me something that I can’t tell you about until February 27th. I’m sure you’ll read about his work in the New York Times or TechCrunch, among other places. It’s too inspiring to stay a secret for long.

While watching the demo I realized the way I look at the world was about to change. While listening to Wong I noticed a tear running down my face. It’s been a long while since Microsoft did something that had an emotional impact on me like that.”

Well, bring on the 27th, I say. I got to see this thing, whatever it is!

Read his post here.


The next generation shadow puppets brought to you by Microsoft

November 7, 2011

I have been writing about Microsoft Research quite a bit and lately it seems that they are showing off our future every few days.

Last week was no different and they gave us 3 different projectors that allow you to interact with them through shadows and augmented reality.

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3 devices, split up into camera, room and SLAM models, incorporate pico projectors, coaxial IR cameras, inertial measurement units (IMUs) and the company’s Kinect to project augmented visions onto surrounding surfaces. The environmentally aware systems allow for shadow- and touch-based interaction with the CG overlays, offering pinch functionality, icon selection and even painting.

Pretty cool you think? Check out the video

 

One day we might all have one of those to check out the latest furniture and what they will look like in our home.

@maniac13


Amnesia Razorfish Announces Gesture Sharing for Smartphones and Tablets using Microsoft Surface (Press Release)

January 25, 2011

Amnesia Razorfish today announced the launch of Amnesia Connect – a software breakthrough, which allows instant and seamless sharing and transfer of any content such as photos, music or embedded apps between multiple handheld devices using a Microsoft Surface table using a single gesture.

Launched today, Amnesia Razorfish Connect can be viewed at: http://vimeo.com/18859503 and there is more information on the software at: www.amnesiarazorfish.com.au/

Amnesia Razorfish Connect has been developed entirely in-house at Amnesia Razorfish by the creative and emerging technology teams.

Following months of research and development, Amnesia Razorfish has replaced the typical ‘send and receive’ interface with a more natural ‘gesture-based’ interface. A smartphone owner can now move their content freely between two devices by simply dragging content off their phone onto a Microsoft Surface Table and back onto another device instantly.

Amnesia Razorfish Founder and Executive Creative Director Iain McDonald said: “The previous barriers which stood in the way of getting content on or off your phone have been completely removed with this software.

“In the past device integration like this has been mainly confined to Hollywood movies or smoke and mirror demos, so we set ourselves the challenge of making it real.

“It took a while to crack, but the result speaks for itself – all the buttons are gone and sharing content is now completely instinctive. In a world where smartphones are becoming omnipresent, this kind of software opens another world of ideas for brands.”

Amnesia Connect allows gesture transfer of mobile content instantly

The smartphone user can transfer new free or commercial content from the table by dragging it directly to their phone with a single swipe – then before full transfer takes place, a preview instantly visible as a live motion tracked ‘lens preview’ through the phone display – similar to an X-ray through to the table.

For example, in less than a few seconds a photo can be taken on one device and dragged effortlessly onto the Surface table and then directly onto another device running on Amnesia Connect software.

“The new software promises a range of new possibilities for the retail and hospitality industries in particular. In the near future we envisage a Smartphone user being to complete commercial transactions for both physical and digital content,” McDonald said.

Amnesia Connect in action

The Amnesia Connect software works with all Apple IOS devices and is being further developed to work seamlessly with Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry Smartphones.

Amnesia Razorfish Connect utilises a range of technologies including Wi-Fi, proximity detection, unique ID and phone accelerometer, depending on the type of phone and location.

For in-store transactions, NFC (Near-Field-Communications) has been proposed as one of several possibilities for payment transactions, although a pre-authenticated user account with credit card details could also be used.

Amnesia Connect has also been developed to work with the new Microsoft Surface 2.0 table, that was announced at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Amnesia Razorfish Managing Director Michael Buckley said that Amnesia Connect is available immediately for the agency’s clients to utilise in projects and added existing clients that had seen the application were ‘very excited’.

Follow @amnesiafish on Twitter.
PS: Ask questions in the comments below – we will do our best to answer them!

Read the rest of this entry »


Microsoft’s answer to Google Street View

August 3, 2010

The issue: traversing a busy urban street in a 360-degree photographic bubble can be disorienting, especially when searching for a specific address or business

The solution: Microsoft Street Slide, developed by MS Research. Zoom out of your panoramic bubble and the street is presented as a dynamic, multi-perspective "strip" giving you an instant visual summary of the surroundings.

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Supposedly Microsoft is already working on taking Street Slide mobile with an iPhone port, and probably a version for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 series.

Unfortunately, don’t expect this to be released anytime soon as the team has only processed about 2400 panoramas so far covering just 4 kilometers of streets.

Watch the video and you will be impressed.

@maniac13


Microsoft’s Project Tuva

July 17, 2009

I came across an article this morning that mentioned Project Tuva and because I didn’t know what that was I looked it up and I was really impressed.

What does it do? It explores core scientific concepts and theories by presenting timeless videos with a new enhanced silverlight player.

It features searchable video, linked transcripts, notes and interactive extras.

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It looks very promising and I hope it will make it into the wild one day (soon)


Microsoft takes multi-touch beyond the screen

October 22, 2008

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Microsofts SideSight research project promises to do away with that pesky need to actually touch the screen. To do that, Microsoft proposes to employ a whole range of proximity sensors around a device, which would be able to detect gestures up to ten centimeters away, with a quick motion towards the device representing a click, for instance, or a twisting motion letting you rotate an image.

While Microsoft has actually built a prototype of sorts using an HTC Touch (seen above), it still has quite a ways to go, as the sensors on the prototype actually just connected to a PC via USB and then relayed back to the phone using Bluetooth. Eventually, however, Microsoft says that the system could allow for multi-touch to be used on very small devices, which could possibly even use printed sensors that would cover the entire casing.

full story here.


Microsoft adds twist to handhelds

April 21, 2008

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Microsoft Research is working towards integrating force-sensing technology that will enable gestures to twist on-screen imagery without crafting UMPCs out of flexible material. Essentially, the gurus behind the idea feel that implementing said tech would “turn an otherwise passive component that just holds the device together into an active input surface.”


future touch screens have no lag

March 27, 2012

Most touch panels and controllers today suffer from about a 100ms delay and while most people got used to it, I still find it really annoying.

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And so does Microsoft as they are putting money into the task of getting rid of that lag. Microsoft Research has figured out a way to get the delay down to 1 ms.

check out the video below to see the difference.

Pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see this technology going mainstream and into all kinds of touch devices.

@maniac13


Another step closer to the HoloDeck

January 9, 2012

We have seen some cool stuff in the past that could bring us closer to the Star Trek HoloDeck, e.g. the HoloDesk

And now Microsoft Research has pushed a little further and gives us a 3D hologram that is floating in mid air at 15 frames per second and is viewable from 192 different points at a time.

reminds me of Star Wars

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Of course Kinect is involved here and the depth sensor makes it possible to interact with the hologram – you can basically touch it.

It is still a long way off from 3D hologram telephony or a full size HoloDeck, but for now this is pretty cool.

check out the video:

@maniac13


One step closer to the HoloDeck from Star Trek

October 21, 2011

Microsoft Research has given us some cool stuff in the past and they don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

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Today its the HoloDesk, a tool that lets you manipulate virtual 3D objects with your bare hands. Looking through a transparent display, the objects react nearly instantly, rolling from a sheet of real paper into a real cup and falling into shadow if you block the virtual light-source.

Check out the super cool video of it in action:

 

If you haven’t guessed it, there is a Kinect sensor at its heart. Super awesome.

@maniac13


Getting one step closer to a minority report future

October 6, 2010

Microsoft Research always has some cool stuff to show and this time it is called Light Space.

Just imaging a room that is monitored by depth sensing cameras and projections that react like a surface table on any old surface.

But not only that – just grab some content from the table projection and move it to the wall by simply touching it. Not quite as smooth as Tom Cruise did in Minority Report, but it is a first step.

Sounds futuristic? Check out the video below

@maniac13


The future of touch includes a stylus

April 10, 2010

Even though Apple’s Steve Jobs was very clear about not liking a stylus, it looks like Microsoft Research went back to it to combine it with touch input and give the user new tools that weren’t possible before.

Of course this comes from the research department and might never see the day of life, but it looks awesome and I can see this “addition of the past” bringing some useful things to the end user.

check out the video

@maniac13


Save energy with your network card

April 27, 2009

Microsoft Research and researchers at UC San Diego developed a new method to save on power in sleep mode while still keeping up with IMs and whatever other network activity you might be up to.

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Dubbed "Somniloquy," the USB dongle acts as an external networking card, and takes over most of the communication duties, with its own embedded OS and flash memory. When the computer goes to sleep, Somniloquy maintains IM connections, ongoing downloads and torrents, and keeps your computer present on the local network and wireless LAN. If an activity arrives that needs the full computer, Somniloquy wakes up the computer and patches it through.

Somniloquy boasts up to 60 to 80 percent overall energy savings based on the person’s usage habits.

Found here and the full article here.


The Lexus Surface Experience

November 23, 2011

Lexus – the future of performance is clear

The Lexus LFA is the new limited edition supercar that came to Australia just a few month ago and was showcased at the Lexus stand at the Melbourne International Motor show 2011.

George P. Johnson came to us to create an interactive way to showcase the car that you can’t touch.

Straight away a few ideas popped into our heads and after presenting to the client we went with this:

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The idea was simple:

We gave out a see through brochure to visitors of the motor show that will generate intrigue and drive them to Lexus stand to see what the completely clear brochure was all about.
The brochure then came to life when it was placed on the Microsoft Surface table, launching an app that gave them an interactive way to learn about and experience this amazing $750 000 car without actually touching it.

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Lexus was the only stand at the motor show with a Microsoft Surface table and people from all over Australia got to experience the app and were blown away by it. On the app itself you could explore Images of the car, videos of it in action, a time line of its development and a section where you could “drive” a virtual LFA yourself. The competition gave everyone the chance to win a once of a life time experience where 1 lucky winner could drive in the LFA with a professional race driver.

Additionally we incorporated a separate section called “The Extraordinary Way” where Lexus showed off their way of developing cars to show that all the effort and research that went into the LFA is also used in all their other cars.

Check out our video below:

The results speak for themselves:

1502 people took the brochure to the table
4312 unique content views
1487 went to the competition
the virtual LFA was driven 1972.6km (that is 1472.6km more than the real LFA at that time)

@maniac13


Top 100 most valuable brands in the World? Why they got it all wrong.

May 6, 2009

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac)

Each year Millward Brown puts out it’s index of the top 100 brands every year (here). I’m going to offer a different opinion (and yes, it’s only my opinion) on why I think it’s a load of old-school corporate phooey which is sending a financially skewed perspective on the value of brand compared to the modern consumer REAL thoughts about brands.

Note: I take the point that not all brands in this list are consumer facing per-se, but when publishing a list of the “Most Valuable Global Brands” I believe the word ‘value’ and ‘brand’ needs to take a deeper dive into broader consumer data and well beyond “highest margins and the most recognisable logo”.

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In my humble opinion the power of a brand should mostly be judged by how well it is able to reach, interact with and influence a consumer, in particular with regards to their decision making process (which has a lot to do with ‘Trust’). It’s a big subject area and worth a lot of $ when you look at the $ad spend invested by these brands. Millward Brown have their ‘formula in a bottle’ to compare brand power but I believe the only place this list belongs is in a Sunday-Financial-Pullout-Section and that it is not indicative of a modern day ‘powerful consumer brand’ particularly in today’s digital world.

As a footnote I should say that my core interest lies in understanding the ever-evolving ‘digital’ consumer, (which of course is now an every day consumer too). I spend most of my day listening, observing (some might say spying), engaging in real conversations as well as looking at a lot of quant data and an array of third party research. I’m of the school of thought that you can define a brand by what consumers actually think and feel about a brand – I do not believe a brand is always what the CMO says the brand is so when I see a list like the one above it makes me squirm slightly. I’ll tell you why in a second.

Firstly I do recommend reading the full PDF of Millward Brown’s Top 100 Brands (here) and come to your own conclusion – hey… you may just love it and agree with their definition of ‘brand power’ 100%. That’s ok by me – I’m just offering another way of looking at things.

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The first problem for me is right here below an excerpt from their report:

“Customer Opinion
The secret ingredient is WPP’s BrandZ
database, based on an annual quantitative
brand equity study in which consumers and
business customers familiar with a category
evaluate brands.
Since BrandZ’s inception over 10 years
ago, more than one million consumers and
business-to-business customers across
31 countries have shared their opinions
about thousands of brands. It is the most
comprehensive, global, and consistent study
of brand equity.”

As you can see the above plays a critical part within the formula below used to calculate the list.

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So why do I have an issue with this? For a start I’m not a big fan of anything that tells me they have “secret ingredients”… especially when I believe the raw data is available elsewhere in digital channels already and in much larger quantities. Secondly I do not believe the final list reflects the actual brand sentiment or evidence that can be seen daily by the interactions consumers have in the digital landscape, which as a source of information offers a lot more qual and quant data than any one study a single company can undertake to produce in a ‘comprehensive study’.

Search Trends – An alternative way to measure Brand Power
When you have enough data, the signal usually rises above the noise. Search trend data (which Google makes available here) gives us some critical insight into ‘real’ Brand Power pull and arguably the biggest source of data available on a brand. In this instance if a brand is unable to PULL its consumers into active search through it’s spend on marketing, comms, PR, CRM, new product innovation etc then there is probably an issue in here that needs to be addressed. I know some will question if search is relevant to all brands, but I would argue that even with ‘low interest categories’ the global data is there. Example: Here’s Wrigley’s in amongst the category mix for Chewing Gum and Bubble Gum over the last 4.5 yrs.

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The argument against the top 100 brand power list:
Let’s take some of these brands in the top 100 and look at search trend data from the last 5+ years in Google as well as the last 12 months. (Note: I’ve chosen unique brand keywords to look to keep the data more ‘pure/clean’ for my examples). Given that the growth of the Internet during this period you would expect to see a brand in good health showing positive results in search and an upwards curve. This is NOT the case with many of the brands listed in Milward Brown’s top 100. In fact IBM (#4 on the list) has seen a steady decline in search traffic, yet it is listed as being 20% more valuable than the previous year. Sure – they are not focussing efforts on the consumer these days, but that to me means they are not as powerful as a global brand as I see it. IBM belongs in a list which talks to corporate, finance, and niche brand power and does not belong at #4 on a list which defines Global Brand Value/Power. To the image below – in general when it comes to consumer facing brands my own opinion is that when search data trends down it usually represents negative brand health.

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In fact many other brands in the list (and yes, I include Porsche in here) are flat-lining which in real terms represents a relative decline given the growing internet usage and penetration occurring. (Please note I’m keeping data simple here and concentrating on Search  – I have actually taken time to look at plenty of Buzz/Social media trends and available traffic data as well and most trending data is in line with search data).

Going Up or Down?
Millward Brown states that Vodafone’s brand value is up 45%, IKEA is DOWN 21% (at #95 in the table) and Tesco is down 1%. (Strange?! IKEA attracts double the search volume of Tesco but is ranked 74 places behind on the list which begs the question: Does Tesco’s financial performance really make it that much more powerful as a brand?). In fact all of these three brands are seeing marginally positive search growth when adjusting for seasonal trends and economic factors so I would suggest a positive brand increase overall for all three.

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I’m the Chairman of IBM what do I do?
Now, I’m sure Millward Brown’s report probably makes a few CEO’s feel a little better about their business (and no doubt helps WPP’s advertising empire too), but personally I cannot agree with these results as a definitive list of modern day brand power. The reality is that the consumer of 10 years ago does not exist anymore. Today’s consumer connects, shares, evaluates in entirely different ways which of course is another blog post for another day. If you are the Chairman of IBM and you’re reading this, then my advice, “It’s time for you to rethink your brand strategy – your consumer has shifted and you as a brand haven’t moved and are certainly not moving with them at the moment” and if you think that the only people you need to impress with your brand is the CTO, CMO, CEO and CFO then I would beg to differ.

So… what are the most powerful brands?
As a start point I believe the most powerful brands are the ones which consumers trust the most, identify with and feel comfortable enough to share with others. Yes of course financial stability is important and plays a big part when it comes to “Trust” which is possibly the single most important word when it comes to Brand Power.

I find it amazing that there was no section in this report on ‘digital brands’ especially when you look at the search data below… now  you start to get an idea of how BIG these new digital brands are in peoples lives. Facebook has actually outpaced Google in search trends by almost 3:1. YouTube is the worlds second biggest search engine, and ranks higher than Google itself in trends.

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On the chart above none of the top 100 brands make a dent on Google, and even Microsoft looks small next to that. I could go on and on… but I’ve probably made my point and this is supposed to be a blog post not a thesis.

My Conclusions:
– The top 100 brands in Millward Brown’s list do not match available trend data on brands from independent sources such as Google, Blogpulse, Alexa etc.
– Digital Brands like Facebook clearly belong in any Power Brand list if sheer volume of interaction plays a part in establishing the power of a modern brand.
– IBM and many other brands on this list that were given positive brand health in 2009 by MB are in fact declining (from a consumer perspective).
– Big brands are still not investing enough in digital as a channel as a proportion of overall marketing spend.
– Traditional agencies still selling too many brands ‘the old way’ – not investing in digital relationships with their customers.
– Reports of this kind should include public sources of data. Why not include search data, twitter mentions, blog posts and semantic data in forming these kind of studies?
– Brand Power should not be based so heavily on financial data. Some of the biggest brands are also the most complained about brands.
– Lack of competition in a category yielding financial success should not be mistaken for positive brand sentiment.

Article by Iain McDonald – Founder / Exec Creative Director at Amnesia Razorfish. (@eunmac) – feel free to drop me a comment!