27 Feb 2015

Microsoft’s Latest Vision of the Future

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Microsoft’s latest vision of the future video which was released last week is truly a site to see. “Productivity Future Vision” from Microsoft Research and several of their educational and commercial partners is a six minute video that takes you for a ride in the not so distant future with Kat, a marine biologist and Lola, a corporate executive.

The vision focuses on collaboration and information sharing utilizing exciting wearables, interactive screens and surfaces, holograms, connected devices and more. All of the devices and technology featured are, of course, concepts. Most, if not all, simply aren’t technologically or financially feasible at this time. Even with that in mind the vision is a fascinating look forward converging the ideas of Bringing People Together, Living Smarter while empowering Friction Free Creativity and Fluid Mobility.

Bringing People Together

The vision shows several a handful of exciting new ways to collaborate with coworkers, peers and family. An interactive whiteboard (as seen above) provides the ability for users to manipulate objects in real time, even if they aren’t at the same location. Another innovation shows a “Skype wall” where a woman and man are having a conversation like they were sitting in the same room.

Living Smarter

Living smarter looks to be much easier in the the future vision thanks to some amazing technology, like working with data in real-time through interactive touch displays (as seen above). Another shows a diver utilizing a head’s up display to determine what an underwater creature is, while even noting that the creature is currently sleeping.

Friction Free Creativity

Holographic computing concepts promised by the likes of Microsoft Hololens (which is powered by Windows 10) allows people throughout the video to manipulate data and controls in a 3-denominational state (see above). In another clip, a woman using a “folding screen” notebook reads the news, pays a bill and jots down notes with a capacitive pen.

Fluid Mobility

Fluid mobility seems to be all about the cloud. Utilizing what we imagine is a future Windows Azure powered backend, users move, sync and swipe data back and forth across devices and form factors with ease. In the example above Kat takes a fully interactive bracelet computer and passes the information on to a tabletop interface in real-time with a quick syncing of data.

The Future Is Now

Of course, Microsoft releases these forward looking “visions” every year or so, which inevitably leaves fanboys and girls drooling and waiting impatiently for the moment when these products will see the light of day. The honest truth however, is that most of the products and services in these visions won’t ever be released or manufactured. Generally the reasoning behind the failure to launch is that the products would probably be far too radical for the average customer or consumer. Of course, as I discussed on Reddit yesterday, technological limitations and costs associated with product development are huge factors as well.

One thing is certain. Microsoft’s dedication to the future has been evident for years, and they even maintain an ever-evolving “Home of the Future” on the Microsoft campus to show off some of the technological innovations that they hope to one day make a reality. Every year or so tech blogs and news sites from around the world will will post updates on Microsoft’s latest additions to the home of the future. If you’d like to see some of the innovations that they’ve shown off in recent years YouTube and Bing searches will provide you with hours of enjoyment and envy.

Microsoft Research is filled with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet, and while many of their ideas never get past the concept stage they still make a huge difference as the barriers they bust down allow amazing improvements to existing and future product lines. To stay up to date on all of the latest releases by Microsoft Research, I’d highly suggest following @MSFTResearch on Twitter.

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