Innovation Engineering Group

Established: July 4, 2016

Microsoft Research Beijing's Engineering Team

History

The Innovation Engineering Group (IEG) has been Microsoft Research Asia’s engineering task force since its inception. The team starts with rough ideas, rickety prototypes, or incomplete snippets of code. From these they go on to build complete, working solutions over a wide array of platforms. They’ve integrated code hundreds of times into most of Microsoft’s flagship products, including Windows, Xbox, Office, Bing, Azure, and Cognitive Services. And they have spun off parts of the team to form new product groups.

Environment

IEG operates in a highly agile, startup-like environment. Many projects operate with just a handful of people and shipping in less than ten Sprints. Their charter is to spin up experiments and then move on, never lingering in one area for long. They have a strong culture of experimentation and listening to users. They prefer that projects achieve scale and graduate, or fail fast. In either case they will usually just ship one version and then move on.

Skills

IEG team members thrive on learning — a necessity when you never know what you will work on next and there are no dedicated roles such as “PM” or “Tester.” They may work on mobile apps (UWP, iOS, Android), Cloud services, or Enterprise apps using C#, C++, Java, or Python running on PCs, smart phones, HoloLenses, FPGA boards, Raspberries, or custom hardware. They could be using ML tools such as CNTK, TensorFlow, Caffe, or just plain old MatLab on CUDA. They could be 3D-modeling meshes for game engines, or 3D-printing robot or Wearable components. They could even be generating background music for app preview videos.

So besides coding they also own User Experience Design, Industrial Design, Hardware Engineering, Agile Project Management (using VSO), Quality Control, Sustaining Engineering, and Compliance for Privacy, Security, Legal, and Geopolitical issues.

Innovation Engineering Group Summary

IEG has the Startup-like ability to experiment and innovate rapidly, but with the stability and discipline of an established and mature company — the best of both worlds.

People

Publications

2012

Projects

Assistant Robot for Retail Settings

Established: July 25, 2016

A prototype humanoid Store Assistant robot that can work alongside retail workers to welcome and engage customers in a retail setting. The Assistant can greet customers at the door, answer questions about products, direct them to the location of specific products or to…

Infographic Designer

Established: March 1, 2016

Infographic visualizations are getting increasingly popular, and have been widely adopted in the real world. As research reveals, they can improve the effectiveness of visualizations by making data quickly understood and easily remembered. However, current data visualization systems lack supports for generating…

Flower Recognition, a Garage Project

Established: August 1, 2016

The Flower Recognition app is really as straightforward as it sounds -- take a picture of a flower, and our app will tell you its common name, as well as a few other details. Simple! The Chinese version of this…

Posts

Realizing Practical Benefits from Research

In the age of big data, the challenge is no longer how to collect or store vast quantities of data—it’s how to make sense of it and use it for practical benefit. Scientific researchers, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and businesses of…

May 2013

Microsoft Research Blog

Software Aids Language Learners

By Gary Alt, Writer, Microsoft Imagine mining the web to learn a language. No, not the jargon of webspeak, where IMHO means “in my humble opinion” or F2F is “face to face,” but real, spoken languages, such as Spanish, Hindi,…

September 2010

Microsoft Research Blog