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<Summary> YATB, Yet Another Technology Blog </Summary>

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Microsoft’s Indian Research arm celebrated its first year in India with Tech Vista 2006. It was interesting to attend not only because it was great to know about all the projects that are taking place at Microsoft, but it was great to know as to what research at Microsoft means. I myself got to interact with some great guys C.A.R Haore, Raj Reddy, Andrew Zisserman, Takeo Kanade and Rick Rashid.

Firstly, TechVista marked the launch of the prototype of Microsoft’s Virtual India project. Virtual India, a project done by Microsoft in collaboration with Govt. of India, an important point that one of the speakers emphasized to me later, when I told that the interface and features were just nothing compared to that of Google Earth. According to him, the fact that unlike Google, they took the path of going through all the red tape the actual implementation of this prototype took just about two months, with the rest being used up in “cutting the red tape”. Anyway, the bottomline is that if you are looking for features and something as Microsoft’s answer to Google Earth then you are looking at the wrong place. But then again this was a research meet. Virtual India is just a prototype. Microsoft’s way of saying beta, pre beta maybe ;-).

Next up was a talk by Sir Tony Haore, who talked just like any old man. Sharing his experiences and jokes. It’s funny how old men can make people laugh by sharing their mistakes :-). But something I just won’t forget about TechVista was just how I met Haore. It happens that before Vista started, I had mentioned to Professor Sadagopan about me being excited to “see” Haore. And it just so happens that couple of minutes later professor meets this old guy wearing a hat and mentions to him that students were quite excited on seeing him and, since I was standing next to him, he looks at me. I realize I have to say something but I am wondering, who is this guy. Realizing that I had already lost a few seconds, I decide to say “It is a pleasure meeting you, sir”. However, as I extend my hand to greet this old man, I see an ID on this guy’s coat, which says “Sir Tony Haore”. Damn!!

There were also other speakers, Raj Reddy who talked about his Million book digital library project, this project is aimed at digitization of literature across the various libraries to reach “common man”. I know it sounds quite similar to Google Print, but as Reddy later clarified, this project is also aimed at digitization of literature in Indian languages. More information at http://dli.iiit.ac.in.  Later, Rick Rashid talked about Research at Microsoft in general and how research was “giving back” to the Microsoft. Takeo Kanade talked about his project eye vision and humanoid robotics in general. Andrew Zisserman’s talk “Finding Julia Roberts”, dealt with specifics of finding out somebody from a picture/video. What was interesting was how these guys were able to find out Julia Roberts even through her varied hair styles and makeup.

What also caught my attention about this project was that Andrew had named this project videoGoogle. Google, at Microsoft Research conference just did not make sense to me. However, Andrew later clarified that this was his own project and had used Google just as verb. Microsoft had just invited him for the talk. Kundan who was standing next to was like, “Huh!!”. If any Google fanatic from Slashdot is here, then I guess it’s time you need to rethink your viewpoint of M$.

Anyway it was great knowing that Microsoft was genuinely interested in promoting research in India, rather than just promoting Microsoft as a brand.

Thanks Microsoft!!

Update 1 Rajan also has an informative post on Techvista


Anonymous Anonymous said...

quite an useful info...


2:36 AM, January 15, 2006


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