TechForum is a Microsoft-sponsored shindig where the company can get together, party, and then show off its latest and greatest research projects. First up we’ve got a transparent interactive 3D display which builds on technology from Cambridge University’s HoloDesk project. Next is Holoflector, a “magic mirror” that overlays LCD projections onto your reflection. Both of these two projects rely heavily upon Kinect as more projects find the potential in the little sensor. Finally there’s Illumishare, a pair of overhead projectors / cameras that share a desktop space with a colleague when you need to look at the same thing.


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What is HTML5?

We’re sure by now you’ve heard the term “HTML5″ thrown around by the likes of Apple and Google. This is the next evolution of HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language, which forms the backbone of almost every site on the Internet. HTML4, the last major iteration of the language, debuted in 1997 and has been subsequently poked and prodded so that it can handle the demands of the modern Web.

HTML4 has been tweaked, stretched and augmented beyond its initial scope to bring high levels of interactivity and multimedia to Web sites. Plugins like Flash, Silverlight and Java have added media integration to the Web, but not without some cost. In search of a “better user experience” and battery life, Apple has simply dropped support for some of these plugins entirely on mobile devices, leaving much of the media-heavy Internet inaccessible on iPads and iPhones. HTML5 adds many new features, and streamlines functionality in order to render these processor-intensive add-ons unnecessary for many common functions.

Assuming content providers sign on (and many are), this means you won’t have to worry about installing yet another plugin just to listen to a song embedded in a blog or watch a video on YouTube. Similarly, this is a big deal for platforms that either don’t support Flash (e.g., iPhone and iPad), or have well documented problems with it (e.g., Linux). It will be a particular boon to those smartphones for which supporting Flash has proven problematic.

Rough Timeline of Web Technologies

1991 HTML
1994 HTML2
1996 CSS1 + JavaScript
1997 HTML4
1998 CSS2
2000 XHTML1
2002 Tableless Web Design
2005 AJAX
2009 HTML5


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Microsoft’s Office Division President, Kurt DelBene shared a concept video of how our lives will improve with technology advancements that are just around the corner. He says they create these videos to help tell the story they see unfolding in technology, and how it will impact our lives in the future. The video shows Microsoft’s vision for a future where technology extends and highlights our productive capabilities; it helps us manage our time better, focus our attention on the most important things, and foster meaningful connections with the people we care about.

All of the ideas in the video are based on real technology. Some of the capabilities, such as speech recognition, real time collaboration and data visualization already exist today. Others are not yet available in specific products, but represent active research and development happening at Microsoft and other companies.


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Sure, we may not see flying cars in our lifetime, but a mainstream digital dash is a definite possibility. The all-glass vehicle dashboard has been conceptualized by other manufacturers in the past, but this year it’s Panasonic’s turn to try its hand at building a multi-display system. The electronics maker brought its Cockpit prototype to the CEATEC floor, causing quite a stir among passersby. The dash itself was little more than a semi-functional mockup, presenting recorded rendered video on the main 20-inch LCD and dual 10.4-inch secondary displays. The main display’s current objective appears to be improving safety, using a series of cameras to eliminate blind spots and alert drivers to other road hazards. Real-time driving stats are displayed atop a video feed, either from the rear camera (when in reverse), or one up front.

Behind the wheel of Panasonic’s mockup consisted only of a pair of (rather comfortable) leather seats, along with a trio of LCDs, which the company claims are currently based on panels used in other Panasonic products, but may eventually utilize custom displays. This wasn’t an actual vehicle prototype — only the “cockpit” was on hand. The main display will (hopefully) focus the driver’s attention away from distractions on those two smaller screens — the one in the center can be used to control standard vehicle settings like climate and entertainment, while a second display positioned directly in front of the passenger seat can play movies and other content.

Overall the setup looked like it could have potential, though Panasonic warned us not to expect anything final until the end of the decade (2018 at the earliest).


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Intelligent Mobility is the theme for 2011 Electrolux Design Lab and here are the Top 8 designs that made the cut. What’s really awesome about the whole process is that the designers get to present their case in front of an audience and do a little Q&A session with the grand jury. On September 7th, 2011 one innovative designer will be taking home 5000 Euros and paid intern-ship at an Electrolux Global Design Centre.


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Everywhere we look we’re surrounded by “smart” technology embedded into everyday items. Refrigerators have built-in televisions and internet connections, while our phones contain more computing power than a NASA control room from the ’70s. Automakers are also ready to ride the tech-train to tomorrow, and Toyota has provided a glimpse of a new way to give passengers a window to the world.

A car already has such a window, but what if the glass was able to provide both information of the world outside and an interactive tool to view it. Engineers and designers from Toyota Motor Europe and the Copenhagen Instituted of Interaction Design have begun thinking about the future, and it could feature a rather unique option for the rear windows. Touch-screen glass would allow one to see how far objects lie in the distance, pinch to zoom on an area outside and to generally learn more about what’s going on outside.

It’s called the Window to the World concept, and you can experience it by watching the video inside.


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In ancient times, people used to calculate and keep a record by drawing on the ground and walls. Over the years, this took the shape of various tools like abacus, chalkboard, calendar, phone and computers. As technology and science progressed, analogous stuff got swapped into digital forms. These kept refining with each passing day and present products are a fine example of advanced technology. The world is at its digital best and designers are leaving no stone unturned to give it an overhaul. Yoori Koo from South Korea has designed a PC, dubbed as Activator, that seeks to fill the existing gap (if there is any) between the digital and physical world.


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Airbus’s engineers have created a virtual Concept Cabin to give an insight into some of the innovations and technologies that they think will completely change passengers’ experiences. Gone are the regulated class divisions of First, Business and Economy, replaced by personalised zones that offer flexible, tailored levels of relaxation, interactivity and working spaces. Passengers will choose to travel in the Interactive zone, with a bar and electronic games where they can mingle and socialise. And those wanting quiet and solitude can choose the Relaxation zone.


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Microsoft Research had its TechForum event yesterday where it showcased some of it’s latest projects to the press. Windows Phone 7 happily took the center stage this year in several demonstrations. In the first video after the break you will see Microsoft Chief Research and Technology Officer, Craig Mundie, demonstrated a new UI controlled by an HTC HD7. This may or may not be what we can expect to see in the upcoming Windows 8 but it definitely shows us where Microsoft is heading with regards to UI and NUIs.


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Eric Schmidt - the future is friendlyEric Schmidt explains the changes at the top of Google and his vision of what the world of computing will look like in 50 years’ time.

 

“I am incredibly optimistic about what is going to be possible in the next decade, we have spent our whole career getting to this point”

Changes at the top of Google are ultimately tactical matters. When he looks ahead a decade or more, Schmidt knows that he is standing on the cusp of the next big shift in technological innovation. Google is a search company. Facebook is a social media company. But Schmidt uses the word “social” more often in his discussion with journalists than “search”. Search, he says, is becoming social.

Anyone who thought Google could be starting on the down curve had better reconsider.

 

Some of the highlights of this conference are:

  • Schmidt says, Facebook is not a competitor because the more people use Facebook the more they use Google. “That is a net positive.”
  • “We still think of search as something you type,” Schmidt said. “Perhaps a decade from now, you will think, well, that was interesting, I used to type but now it just knows.
  • There will be a ubiquitous computational capability that is just so free and so amazing that people will assume that it is an assistant. It knows who you are, it knows what you do, it makes suggestions, it intuits things for you.
  • 10-15 years ago, we couldn’t do the maps. We couldn’t do the searches. We couldn’t physically do it. You couldn’t get enough hardware. You couldn’t get enough power, whereas now it is trivial. So 50 years from now, people will think of us the way we think of the conversion from black and white to colour television. They will think: ‘Why couldn’t they do these extraordinary things?’
  • The rise of Google, the rise of Facebook, the rise of Apple, I think are proof that there is a place for computer science as something that solves problems that people face every day.
  • It eventually gets resolved, and in the case of StreetView (where personal data was inadvertently collected), resolved quite positively. I think that will be the norm. The days when we could just ship a product are gone. We do much, much more than five years ago. It is a permanent change.
  • There will certainly be future rows and battles, but as society faces a new technological age – the age of convergence and convenience – the future power of Google is almost impossible to overestimate.

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Whether it is Chinese, German or Spanish or any other language, it will take years of time to learn them. But electronic device maker Samsung is working on the real-time translation device that will resolve the language barrier issues. That means, during a conservation the device would interpret the voice and evaluate what has been said. The translated words then would be displayed on the screen of the device. It will be a very spontaneous mechanism in which the translated words would be instantly displayed on the screen. In the coming days we might see a full fledged technology which can be used for intelligent communication between different geographies.

This language translator will be an advantage to the strangers in a foreign land by letting them know what exactly is happening around them. All a user has to do is to hold the transparent AMOLED Screen facing the subject. By the time, you will start the conservation the device would automatically display the rough translation on the screen. As the device is still in the development stage, it is not clear that with how much precision it would work. From a users point of view there would be some other considerations, like accent, speed of speech, etc. Still, Samsung Mobile Display is claiming that the device can be put to use in just matter of months.


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