Sensors and Devices

Established: June 10, 2005

The Sensors and Devices Group invents and builds new interactive devices and experiences for users, leveraging recent developments across a broad range of technologies such as sensors, displays, wireless communications and device fabrication. We aim to seed new devices and technologies in the market and ultimately to change people’s perceptions of technology and how it can be used.

We complement the hardware, software and design skills in our group by working closely with collaborators from other disciplines across Microsoft and the wider community. The I3D group spun out of Sensors and Devices in 2012 to focus on various forms of 3D interaction based on novel hardware and algorithms, ultimately leading to Holoportation. In 2014 the Connected Play Initiative was also split out from the group as a separate initiative.

Here are some selected projects from the group:

 battery_lifetime bbc_micro_bit cs_tile disruptive_displays embedded_uls fs_tile hd_tile kf_tile mk_tile ng_tile p_tile ph_tile ap_tile rfid_performance rich_annotation sl_tile sc_tile sns_tile ss_tile sp_tile ts_tile tm_tile vm_tile

News

Can the Micro Bit inspire a million?Steve Hodges, principal researcher in Microsoft’s Cambridge, U.K. research lab, discusses the impact the Micro Bit mini-computer can have on the one million school children who will be coding on the robust devices. BBC News · 29 March 2016

How to inkjet-print an electronic circuitSteve Hodges, head of the sensors and devices group at Microsoft’s Cambridge U.K. research lab, wants to make it easy to prototype electronic devices, so he’s found a way to print circuits with an inkjet printer. Wired · 10 July 2015

Microsoft and the micro:bit: A million ways to inspire a generationLater this year the BBC together with Microsoft and other partners will provide every Year 7 student (age 11-12) in the United Kingdom with their own micro:bit personal computing device they can use to explore the possibilities of computer science. Microsoft News Centre UK · 7 July 2015

Home Inkjet Printer Fabricates Circuit Boards on Photo PaperThe ink costs $500 a bottle, but only a few cents are needed to make a circuit. Computerworld · 28 April 2014

5 Ways Microsoft Will Enable Your PC to See, Sense, and UnderstandAt Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Techfair, researchers showed how they’re taking the PC in a new direction, combining machine vision with a new independence so they may recognize and interpret what the PC sees and present that information in a useful context. PCWorld · 22 April 2014

Print a Working Paper Computer on an $80 InkjetInk laced with silver nanoparticles could make it a reality, to the joy of hobbyists. New Scientist · 3 October 2013

Microsoft’s Gadgeteer Aims to Make Creating Gadgets as Simple as Building with LegoMicrosoft is hoping the ‘Put tab A into slot B’ simplicity of its Gadgeteer hardware platform will make it easier to build prototype gadgets. ZDNet · 2 October 2013

Putting Your Work ID Badge to WorkAn Interactive Belt-worn Badge with a Retractable String-based Input Mechanism, a note from Microsoft Research Cambridge accepted for CHI 2013, describes a computing prototype device designed to provide quick, easy access to useful information. Inside Microsoft Research · 1 May 2013

The Sensors and Devices Group is always looking for interns and post-doc researchers. See Careers to apply.

People

Publications

Videos

.NET Gadgeteer Link description

.NET Gadgeteer

Date

November 14, 2012

Speakers

Nicolas Villar and Steve Hodges

Gadgeteer Link description

Gadgeteer

Date

June 30, 2011

Speakers

Nicolas Villar

Affiliation

MSRC

Swiss Experiment Link description

Swiss Experiment

Date

February 13, 2009

Speakers

Feng Zhao and Stewart Tansley

SenseCam Link description

SenseCam

Date

January 27, 2009

Speakers

Ken Wood, Stephen Emmott, and Steve Hodges

PDC demo of SecondLight Link description

PDC demo of SecondLight

Date

October 28, 2008

Speakers

Rick Rashid, Shahram Izadi, and Steve Hodges

Affiliation

Microsoft Research

Projects

RFID Performance Testing

Established: January 1, 2007

Radio frequency identification (RFID) may be used to automatically detect, locate and/or identify objects, making it an ideal candidate for many pervasive computing applications. As RFID technology improves in terms of cost and performance, it is increasingly being explored in…

The BBC micro:bit and Microsoft

Established: May 28, 2015

Try our Block/JavaScript editor! The BBC and partners, including Microsoft, announce the BBC micro:bit – a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. Up to 1 million micro:bits will be given to every 11 or 12…

Circuit Stickers and Conductive Printing

Established: September 1, 2013

Circuit stickers and conductive printing provide an accessible way to rapidly prototype all sorts of electronic circuits. We use a regular inkjet printer to instantly create conductive traces on regular photo paper and combine this with a special type of…

Digits

Established: December 10, 2012

Digits is a wrist-worn sensor that recovers the full 3D pose of the user's hand without requiring any external sensing infrastructure or covering the hand itself (unlike data gloves). The system targets mobile settings and is specifically designed to be…

SideSight

SideSight expands the multi-touch capabilities of small mobile devices beyond the screen. Infrared sensors embedded along each side of device are capable of detecting the presence and position of fingers within the proximity of the device. When the device is…

ThinSight

Established: May 27, 2012

This project explores a new technique for optical sensing through thin form-factor displays. It allows for detection of fingers and other physical objects close to or on the display surface. This essentially allows us to turn a regular LCD into…

Vermeer

Established: October 18, 2011

Vermeer is a novel interactive 360° viewable display suitable for a tabletop form factor. It provides viewpoint corrected stereoscopic 3D graphics to simultaneous users 360° around the display, without the need for eyewear or other user instrumentation. …

Augmented Projectors

Established: October 17, 2011

In this project we investigate novel handheld projector systems for indoor spaces. These projection-based devices are “aware” of their environment in ways not demonstrated previously. They offer both spatial awareness, where the system infers location and orientation of the device…

KinectFusion Project Page

Established: August 9, 2011

This project investigates techniques to track the 6DOF position of handheld depth sensing cameras, such as Kinect, as they move through space and perform high quality 3D surface reconstructions for interaction. Other collaborators (missing from the list below): Richard Newcombe…

PreHeat: Controlling Home Heating With Occupancy Prediction

Established: March 2, 2011

Home heating uses more energy than any other residential energy expenditure, making increasing the efficiency of home heating an important goal for saving money and protecting the environment. We have built a home-heating system, PreHeat, that automatically programs your thermostat…

HomeOS: Enabling smarter homes for everyone

Established: September 30, 2010

It is no secret that homes are ever-increasing hotbeds of new technology such as set-top boxes, game consoles, wireless routers, home automation devices, tablets, smart phones, and security…

.NET Gadgeteer

Established: September 20, 2010

Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is a rapid prototyping platform for small electronic gadgets and embedded hardware devices. It combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of electronics using a kit of hardware modules, and quick physical enclosure fabrication using computer-aided…

SecondLight

Established: July 26, 2010

 SecondLight is a new rear projection-vision surface technology that augments the typical interactions afforded by multi-touch and tangible tabletops with the ability to project and sense both through and beyond the display.…

Battery Research at Microsoft

Established: March 19, 2015

Mobile devices such as smartphones, along with other battery operated devices, are energy constrained. While hardware capabilities have increased tremendously over the last ten years, battery energy density has only doubled. In this project we are exploring several techniques to…

Peppermill

Established: January 19, 2010

The Peppermill project is an exploration into the design space of user interface devices that are able to source their power from the physical effort involved in interacting with them. We refer to this kind of device as being interaction-powered.…

Posts

Touch Mouse Captures Industry Accolade

Posted by Rob Knies Sometimes, things can go sideways. There are an infinite number of ways that a project can get derailed. We’re human. We understand this.But every once in a while, it seems as if everything just stays…

February 2012

Microsoft Research Blog

Media Coverage