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Microsoft re-imagines life without walls

Ross O. Storey | Aug. 3, 2009
Human gestures and interaction with technology coming soon.

Microsoft provided a fascinating glimpse into the near future in Singapore last week when they unveiled some of their product offerings to come in the next six to 12 months and an event they entitled Re-imagine Life.

Of course, their next operating system, Windows 7, due for public launch on 22 October 2009, was featured, as was a peak at Office 2010, some new XBOX guitar-playing game offerings, plus a video showing the controller-less Natal video games system operated by human gestures. All very interesting to a gadget freak like myself.

Microsoft director, business and marketing organisation, Haresh Koobchandani, having just returned from an internal Microsoft love in at Atlanta, was clearly passionate about the software giants products to come, describing the new search engine Bing as not just a search engine, its a decision engine. By the way, he said that since its launch about two months ago, Bing has experienced a 15 per cent growth in unique users and also expressed his excitement about the newly-announced Microsoft-Yahoo partnership.

Haresh used what is obviously a new Microsoft marketing slogan Life without Walls, alluded to the overall theme of innovation and productivity and said that Microsoft would be spending US$9.5 billion on research and development in 20092010. I understand the company is already working on Windows 8.

The near future, he said, would be all about new ways humans will interact with technology, where you become an orchestrator rather than an author and even, for major enterprises, where the meeting itself is an intelligent participant. Yes, he mentioned the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report where his future cop character simply gestured to move pictures and zoom into information on a digital wall, as being a taste of whats to come.

Goodbye couch potatoes

No longer will future video game players be couch potatoes, because with Microsofts Project Natal, players will be leaping about, frantically waving their arms and kicking their legs at virtual balls, as was shown in a video from Atlanta, including how you could digitally paint your own masterpiece without getting a drop on your clothes.

Another fascinating feature of the evening was the display of Singapores first-ever 47-inch touch screendefinitely not your average LCD screenwhich was used to demonstrate features of Office 2010.

The screen turned out to be what its manufacturer, iiView (a Hong Kong company formed in 2006) calls, a Windows 7 TV Media Centre, an amazing multi-function hybrid HD TV with a built-in PC. During the evening I enjoyed talking to iiView founder and CEO, Cyril Alonzo, about his invention and believe the product is the first real practical demonstration of computer-tv convergence. The giant TVPC idea seems pretty obvious, but this is the first such device that Ive ever seen and my jaw dropped with its functionality, design style and vision. If, like myself, youve ever plugged your laptop into your home LCD to use it as a monitor, youve probably been just as frustrated as me with having to plug in wires and perform gymnastics to make it all work.


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