Microsoft Investing Heavily In Invisible User Interface Technology To Take On Apple And Others

Few days back, WSJ reported about Harry Shum, head of technology and research at Microsoft speaking at Think Next 2014 conference in Tel Aviv. Harry Shum said “We are now moving from the personal computer to personal computing.” Microsoft Research now has machine learning and artificial intelligence on top of its list and working on how a person interacts with a computer. Also, Microsoft is now investing heavily on invisible user interface technology in which the intelligent devices will know what you want before you tell them.

Microsoft is investing heavily in “invisible user interface” technology, said Yoram Yaakobi, who heads up Microsoft’s research and development center in Israel. Yaakobi said people in the future won’t need to touch, type or speak to their devices — the devices will “know” what we want them to do before we ask. He called it “UI.Next.”

“User interface started with the command prompt, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures,” Yaakobi said. “It’s now moving to invisible UI, where there is nothing to operate. The tech around you understands you and what you want to do” — and that’s what people expect, he said. “We’re putting this at the forefront of our efforts.”

Cortana digital assistant Microsoft announced last week is just the beginning of Microsoft Research’s efforts in machine learning. Apple and Google has already got their own digital assistants in the market in the name of Siri and Google Now. When comparing Microsoft with Google and Apple, I personally think that only Google will compete with Microsoft in this space few years from now. Because, Apple severely lacks the data needed for machine learning and other related technologies. I expect Apple to make series of acquisitions to catch up with Google and Microsoft.

Jeannette Wing, a vice president for research commented the following on Cortana and future of Artificial Intelligence.

“I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we’re still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I’m referring to,” she said at the conference. “That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it’s huge.”

Most major technology companies in the world are looking into machine learning, she said, and Microsoft is making major strides. “We were in an AI winter, and now we’re in an AI spring,” Wing said.

Microsoft Research is also working on virtual assistants that can handle your work in real life dealing with other people and more. Microsoft Research’s long term goal of the Situated Interaction project is to enable a new generation of interactive systems that embed interaction and computation deeply into the natural flow of everyday tasks, activities and collaborations. Read about it here.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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