Microsoft Research Blog

The Microsoft Research blog provides in-depth views and perspectives from our researchers, scientists and engineers, plus information about noteworthy events and conferences, scholarships, and fellowships designed for academic and scientific communities.

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ReDial: Recommendation dialogs for bridging the gap between chit-chat and goal-oriented chatbots

Chatbots come in many flavors, but most can be placed in one of two categories: goal-oriented chatbots and chit-chat chatbots. Goal-oriented chatbots behave like a natural language interface for function calls, where the chatbot asks for and confirms all required parameter values and then executes a function. The Cortana chat interface is a classic example of a goal-directed chatbot. For example, you can ask about the weather for a specific location or let Cortana walk…

November 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Encouraging developers and manufacturers to innovate with Eye Control

Eye Control is an exciting technology in Windows 10 that allows customers to use their eyes to control an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech experience. This is a technology that empowers people with limited mobility such as people living with ALS. As part of the National Disability Employer Awareness Month (NDEAM), Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has shared a demo video showing the capabilities enabled by the APIs (Application Programming Interface) associated with the Eye Control.…

October 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

UIST a showcase for innovation and an opportunity for professional growth

Thirteen years ago, researchers Shamsi Iqbal, Jaime Teevan, and Meredith Ringel Morris met for the first time. They were graduate students participating in the Doctoral Symposium at the 2005 ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium. Teevan and Morris were slightly senior, preparing to graduate the next year, and Iqbal remembers that she hadn’t even chosen a dissertation topic yet. “They presented their amazing, almost-complete dissertation topics, and there I was still in the process of…

October 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Meredith Ringel Morris

Reflections – the Grace Hopper Conference past and present

This year I will be attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC), where I will be part of a panel discussion on the topic, “Will Artificial Intelligence Eliminate Accessibility Barriers?” (at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 26th). I’ve attended GHC three times in the past, but I must admit I am simultaneously excited and nervous about the projected attendance of 20,000 people this year! The first time I attended GHC was eighteen years…

September 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Thinking outside-of-the-black-box of machine learning on the long quest to perfecting automatic speech recognition

Speech recognition is something we humans do remarkably well, which includes our ability to understand speech even in noisy multi-talker environments. While our natural sophistication at this is something we take for granted, speech recognition researchers continue to pursue refinements and improvements on the frontiers of the research space of automatic speech recognition. Significant technological progress that has been made over decades has shaped automatic speech recognition technology into its current form, which is already…

August 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Democratizing APIs with Natural Language Interfaces

Benefiting from a confluence of factors, such as service-oriented architecture, cloud computing, and Internet-of-Things (IoT), application program interfaces – APIs – are playing an increasingly important role in both the virtual and the physical world. For example, web services, such as those featuring weather, sports, and finance, hosted in the cloud provide data and services to end users via web APIs and IoT devices expose their functionalities via APIs to other devices on the network.…

July 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Insights on the future of video calling in emergency situations

For most of us, a call to emergency services is a rare act, or one thankfully that we’ve never had to take. Anyone having had to make that call often will, in a calmer future moment, reflect on what transpired during it – the quality of the service, the professionalism and empathy of the call takers, and perhaps most importantly how information crucial to the outcome was conveyed. The communication aspect of emergency calls can…

May 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Measuring employment demand with internet search data

The United States, along with much of the world, is in the midst of an economic transition from manual to intellectual labor. The changing nature of work, including the automation of labor, is an important issue facing society, with implications not only for our standard of living but also for socio-economic and political divisions. With this backdrop in mind, at Microsoft Research we hope to augment the study of employment in the U.S. Traditionally jobs…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

HEARING IS BELIEVING – Researchers’ innovation provides a richer web-browsing experience for people who are blind

Imagine for a moment that you are blind and are navigating the web using a screen reader to hear websites rather than see them. Imagine that the article you have navigated to includes images. To understand the content and significance, you are relying on your screen reader to narrate the alt text associated with each image, a textual description that should be provided by the web page author. Now imagine sitting there and hearing the…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

ChatPainter: Improving text-to-image generation by using dialogue

Generating realistic images from a text description is a challenging task for a bot. A solution to this task has potential applications in the video game and image editing industries, among many others. Recently, researchers at Microsoft and elsewhere have been exploring ways to enable bots to draw realistic images in defined domains, such as birds, faces or furniture. However, because there is a limited amount of annotated paired image-caption data available, models have difficulty…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Manipulating Space and Time in Mixed Reality

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality each has distinct advantages when it comes to bringing digital capabilities into our everyday lives. Everything users see, including the environment and every object can be controlled and changed. This also means that what users see doesn’t necessarily mirror the real world. If another user should enter the room, for example, she would not be represented in VR. AR, on the other hand, lets users enrich their physical environment with…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog

Uncanny Valley and the Sense of Touch

The notion of an “uncanny valley” is well known in robotics[1]. This is when increasing the realism of a robot’s human-like appearance can lead to feelings of unease—or even revulsion—as a robot becomes more and more (but never quite fully) human-like[2]. While this uncanny valley is related to sight, researchers wondered if an uncanny valley experience also exists for the sense of touch—also known as haptics. In a paper recently published in Science Robotics[3], a…

April 2018

Microsoft Research Blog