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.

  1. (Th)Inking with data — tapping into the potential of the digital pen

    Whether at work or at home, people are regularly gathering and interpreting information to build their base of knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. In this endeavor, they encounter data in many shapes and forms—lines of text in books, timelines and charts in magazines and newspapers, photos in print and online. They’re searching webpages and browsing interactive maps to identify good schools for their children or to find a great…

    May 2nd, 2019

  2. Introducing TORC: A rigid haptic controller that renders elastic objects

    Oxymorons of haptics might be the new normal Consumer virtual reality (VR) systems can immerse users in wonderous virtual worlds, rich in sights and sounds. However, how many times have you reached for an object in VR or augmented reality (AR) and, just as you were about to grab it, you experienced the bitter sensorial shock that the object did not exist in the real world. That break on presence could be about to end.…

    May 2nd, 2019

  3. Deep InfoMax: Learning good representations through mutual information maximization

    As researchers continue to apply machine learning to more complex real-world problems, they’ll need to rely less on algorithms that require annotation. This is not only because labels are expensive, but also because supervised learners trained only to predict annotations tend not to generalize beyond structure in the data necessary for the given task. For instance, a neural network trained to classify images tends to do so based on texture that correlates with the class…

    May 1st, 2019

  4. CHI squared with Dr. Ken Hinckley and Dr. Meredith Ringel Morris

    Episode 74, May 1, 2019 - If you want to know what’s going on in the world of human computer interaction research, or what’s new at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, you should hang out with Dr. Ken Hinckley, a principal researcher and research manager in the EPIC group at Microsoft Research, and Dr. Merrie Ringel Morris, a principal researcher and research manager in the Ability group. Both are prolific HCI…

    May 1st, 2019

  5. Investing in leading minds—Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship

    How does a leading research institution ensure the flow of computer science talent and keep the most talented minds in the space focused on solving today’s truly challenging problems? The Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship recognizes innovative, promising new faculty members with $100,000 USD annually for two years to pursue breakthrough, high-impact research. The grant is an unrestricted gift, providing the Fellows the freedom to plan their research, hire graduate students, build labs, and acquire equipment.…

    April 30th, 2019

  6. Toward Emotionally Intelligent Artificial Intelligence

    Recent successes in machine intelligence hinge on core computation ability to efficiently search through billions of possibilities in order to make decisions. Sequences of decisions, if successful, often suggest that perhaps computation is catching up to–or even surpassing–human intelligence. Human intelligence, on the other hand, is highly generalizable, adaptive, robust and exhibits characteristics that the current state-of-the-art machine intelligence systems simply are not yet capable of producing. For example, humans are able to plan significantly…

    April 30th, 2019

  7. How to better design AI – from ideation to user perception and acceptance

    Designing artificial intelligence systems and features poses new challenges for user experience (UX) practitioners. Traditionally, UX designers rely on sketching and low-fidelity, fast prototyping to imagine and test their ideas. The usual design tools and techniques, however, can’t always meet the demands of designing AI-infused systems. For one, these systems are increasingly based on more abstract interactions like language understanding and conversation participation. They’re also intrinsically dynamic and unpredictable, changing over time as they learn…

    April 26th, 2019

  8. Froid and the relational database query quandry with Dr. Karthik Ramachandra

    Episode 73, April 24, 2019 - In the world of relational databases, structured query language, or SQL, has long been King of the Queries, primarily because of its ubiquity and unparalleled performance. But many users prefer a mix of imperative programming, along with declarative SQL, because its user-defined functions (or UDFs) allow for good software engineering practices like modularity, readability and re-usability. Sadly, these benefits have traditionally come with a huge performance penalty, rendering them…

    April 24th, 2019

  9. Advancing accessibility on the web, in virtual reality, and in the classroom

    At the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems conference in Glasgow, Scotland this May, researchers from Microsoft’s Redmond and UK labs, together with our university collaborators, will be presenting several papers and demos that explore how to design technologies more inclusively, to support accessibility by users with cognitive and/or sensory disabilities. Microsoft researchers Adam Fourney, Kevin Larson, and myself teamed up with University of Washington researchers Qisheng Li and Katharina Reinecke to…

    April 18th, 2019

  10. Prototype tablet tricked out with sensors just proves Mom was always right: Posture is important!

    The mobility of tablets affords interaction from a wide diversity of postures: Hunched over a desk with brow furrowed in concentration. On the go with the tablet gripped in one hand, while operating it with the other. Or kicked back on a couch to relax with some good old-fashioned Cat vs. Laser Pointer internet-video action. This dexterity of situation, task, and mood are a big part of what makes tablets so appealing. But as the…

    April 17th, 2019

  11. AI for Earth with Dr. Lucas Joppa

    Episode 72, April 17, 2019 - We hear a lot these days about “AI for good” and the efforts of many companies to harness the power of artificial intelligence to solve some of our biggest environmental challenges. It’s rare, however, that you find a company willing to bring its environmental bona fides all the way to the C Suite. Well, meet Dr. Lucas Joppa. A former environmental and computer science researcher at MSR who was…

    April 17th, 2019

  12. Less pain, more gain: A simple method for VAE training with less of that KL-vanishing agony

    There is a growing interest in exploring the use of variational auto-encoders (VAE), a deep latent variable model, for text generation. Compared to the standard RNN-based language model that generates sentences one word at a time without the explicit guidance of a global sentence representation, VAE is designed to learn a probabilistic representation of global language features such as topic, sentiment or language style, and makes the text generation more controllable. For example, VAE can…

    April 15th, 2019