Portrait of Desney Tan

Desney Tan

General Manager, Microsoft Healthcare


I am General Manager of Microsoft Healthcare, which creates technologies that empower clinicians to improve health outcomes. Specifically, I am responsible for Microsoft’s clinical productivity tools, medical devices, and genomics (or more generally -omics) agenda. I also hold an affiliate faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.

My research interests include Human-Computer Interaction, Mobile Computing, and Healthcare. I spend large chunks of my time building technologies that digitize the world and human body in interesting ways and then applying signal processing and machine learning to make sense of it all. My work has been shipped in various versions of Windows and Office, the Microsoft Handwriting Recognition Engine and Tablet Input Panel, Xbox Kinect, and most recently the Microsoft Band.

I received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1996, after which I spent a couple of years building bridges and blowing things up in the Singapore Armed Forces. I later returned to Carnegie Mellon University, where I worked with Randy Pausch and earned my PhD in Computer Science in 2004.

I was honored as one of MIT Technology Review’s 2007 Young Innovators Under 35 for my work on brain-computer interfaces and a 2012 Kavli Fellow by the US National Academy of Sciences. I was named one of SciFi Channel’s Young Visionaries at TED 2009, as well as  Forbes’ Revolutionaries: Radical Thinkers and their World-Changing Ideas for my work on Whole Body Computing. I have served as Technical Program Chair for CHI 2008 as well as General Chair for CHI 2011. I sit on multiple journal editorial boards and serve as Editor-in-Chief for Foundations and Trends in HCI as well as the Springer HCI Series.

I am amazingly fortunate to have a family that supports (or at least tolerates) my crazy work habits, and it is great that my wife Angela and kids Ayden and Zachary are always there when I come up for air.





[P…] >50 inventions patent-pending

[P.14] Supporting User Multitasking with Clipping Lists
Tara Matthews, George Robertson, Mary Czerwinski, Desney Tan
United States Patent #8108785, granted 31 Jan 2012

[P.13] Activity Centric Granular Application Functionality
Steven Macbeth, Roland Fernandez, Brian Meyers, Desney S Tan, George Robertson, Nuria Oliver, Oscar Murillo, Elin Pedersen
United States Patent #7970637, granted 28 Jun 2011

[P.12] Activity Centric Domain Scoping
Steven Macbeth, Roland Fernandez, Brian Meyers, Desney S Tan, George Robertson, Nuria Oliver, Oscar Murillo
United States Patent #7836002, granted 16 Nov 2010

[P.11] Creating and Managing Activity-Centric Workflow
Steven Macbeth, Roland Fernandez, Brian Meyers, Desney S Tan, George Robertson, Nuria Oliver, Oscar Murillo, Elin Pedersen, Mary Czerwinski
United States Patent #7761393, granted 20 July 2010

[P.10] Constraint-based Correction of Handwriting Recognition Errors
Michael Shilman, Desney S Tan, Patrice Simard, Mary Czerwinski
United States Patent #7720316, granted 18 May 2010

[P.9] In-Situ Search for Active Note Taking
Kenneth Hinckley, Shengdong Zhao, Raman Sarin, Patrick Baudisch, Edward Cutrell, Michael Shilman, Desney S Tan
United States Patent #7693842, granted 6 April 2010

[P.8] Accessing 2D Graphic Content Using Axonometric Layer Views
George Robertson, Daniel Robbins, Desney S Tan, Kenneth Hinckley, Maneesh Agrawala, Mary Czerwinski, Patrick Baudisch, Gonzalo Ramos
United States Patent #7663620, granted 16 February 2010

[P.7] Resource Availability for User Activities Across Devices
Steven Macbeth, Roland Fernandez, Brian Meyers, Desney S Tan, George Robertson, Nuria Oliver, Oscar Murillo, Mary Czerwinski
United States Patent #7620610, granted 17 November 2009

[P.6] Using Electroencephalograph Signals for Task Classification and Activity Recognition
Desney S Tan, Johnny Lee
United States Patent #7580742, granted 25 August 2009

[P.5] Displaying 2D Graphic Content using Depth Wells
George Robertson, Daniel Robbins, Desney S Tan, Ken Hinckley, Maneesh Agrawala, Mary Czerwinski, Patrick Baudisch, Gonzalo Ramos
United States Patent #7523405, granted 21 April 2009

[P.4] Managing Arbitrary Window Regions for More Effective Use of Screen Space
Brian Meyers, Desney S Tan, George Robertson, Mary Czerwinski
United States Patent #7487454, granted 3 February 2009

[P.3] Real-time Preview for Panoramic Images
Patrick Baudisch, Chris Pal, Eric Rudolph, Drew Steedly, Richard Szeliski, Desney S Tan, Matthew Uyttendaele
United States Patent #7424218, granted 9 September 2008

[P.2] Spy-Resistant Keyboard
Desney S Tan, Pedram Keyani, Mary Czerwinski
United States Patent #7296233 granted 13 November 2007 & #7395506 granted 1 July 2008

[P.1] 3D Navigation Techniques
George Robertson, Mary Czerwinski, Desney S Tan
United States Patent #6987512, granted 17 January 2006 & #7148892 12 December 2006


[Pr.47] Local Scientists Develop Contact Lenses to Help Diabetics
International Examiner, 15 February 2012

[Pr.46] Information-Rich Eyeballs? Talking to Microsoft’s Desney Tan about the Functional Contact Lens
AsweetLife, 12 January 2012

[Pr.45] Contact Lens Monitors Blood Sugar
Discovery News, 7 January 2012

[Pr.44] Microsoft Developing Electronic Contact Lens to Monitor Blood Sugar
Gizmag, 5 January 2012

[Pr.43] The Good, The Bad and The Stupid of 2011
Seattle Business Magazine, December 2011

[Pr.42] 自由亚洲电台人物专访:对话微软研究院高级研究员
Radio Free Asia, 2 November 2011

[Pr.41] Desney Tan and Scott Saponas: Your Body is a Wonder, Man
PopTech Blog, 22 October 2011

[Pr.40] Better Typing While Walking, and other Cool Stuff from UW
GeekWire, 20 October 2011

[Pr.39] Remote Control, With a Wave of a Hand
The New York Times, 10 September 2011

[Pr.38] How to Make a Human Antenna
Discovery News, 12 May 2011

[Pr.37] Turn your entire home into a game controller
New Scientist, 10 May 2011

[Pr.36] Talking to the Wall
Technology Review, 3 May 2011

[Pr.35] Sensors turn skin into gadget control pad
BBC News, 26 March 2010

[Pr.34] Skinput Turns Your Arm into a Touch-Screen
Wired, 3 March 2010

[Pr.33] Skinput Turns Any Bodily Surface Into a Touch Interface
Popular Science, 3 March 2010

[Pr.32] ‘Skinput’ Turns Your Body Into Touchscreen Interface
TechNews, 3 March 2010

[Pr.31] Body acoustics can turn your arm into a touchscreen
New Scientist, 1 March 2010

[Pr.30] Microsoft tapping current product line for personal health IT
ZDNet, 10 February 2010

[Pr.29] Microsoft E-health Research Taps Xbox, Mobile Phones
PCWorld, 9 February 2010

[Pr.28] 人机交互 那些触手可及的梦想 (HCI and the Touchable Dreams)
Chinese Popular Computer Weekly, 19 November 2009

[Pr.27] 人机交互:一个被忽视的重要领域 (HCI: An Important Field that is Overlooked)
Science Times, 19 November 2009

[Pr.26] 用舌头玩转俄罗斯方块 (Using the Tongue to Control Computers and Play Games)
sina, 10 November 2009

[Pr.25] Muscle-Bound Computer Interface
Technology Review, 28 October 2009

[Pr.24] The Revolutionaries: Radical Thinkers and their World-Changing Ideas – Desney Tan
Forbes, 22 September 2009

[Pr.23] Technology Shows What’s on a Customer’s Mind
Financial Times, 16 September 2009

[Pr.22] Inside These Lenses, a Digital Dimension
The New York Times, 25 April 2009

[Pr.21] Young Visionaries
SciFi Channel Visions of Tomorrow, 5 February 2009

[Pr.20] The Interface: Gestures will Force the Mouse into Retirement
Financial Times, 16 September 2008

[Pr.19] Microsoft Research: How We Watch the Computer and How it Watches Us
Bill Crounse’s HealthBlog, 18 August 2008

[Pr.18] Collabio Game Explores Social-Network Data Mining… And Social Psychology
Microsoft Research News and Highlights, August 2008
TechCrunch, August 2008

[Pr.17] My Awesome IT Job: Researcher and Manager, Microsoft
ZDNet, 25 July 2008

[Pr.16] Upgrading Humans
Discovery Channel, 16 June 2008

[Pr.15] High-tech Armband Puts your Fingers in Control
New Scientist, 24 April 2008

[Pr.14] Giving Back to the Machines
digit, 22 January 2008

[Pr.13] Microsoft’s Investigation into the Subconscious
MarketWatch from DowJones, 18 January 2008

[Pr.12] The Year in Hardware
MIT Technology Review, 26 December 2007

[Pr.11] I Spy with my AI, Something Beginning with T(hought)!
Information Technology Magazine, 1 October 2007 [pdf]

[Pr.10] Work on Paralysis Shows Just How Hard it is to Read Minds
Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2007

[Pr.9] Teaching Computers to Read Minds
MIT Technology Review, 15 August 2007

[Pr.8] Human-Aided Computing: Microsoft Researchers are Trying to Harness Untapped Brain Power
MIT Technology Review, 22 June 2007

[Pr.7] Computer Will Try to Adjust to Your Moods: This is your Brain Plugged In
Puget Sound Business Journal, 19 May 2006

[Pr.6] Software Notebook: Helping Users Peer into the Minds of Users
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 March 2006

[Pr.5] Microsoft Research Nurtures Top Tech Talent with Student Fellowships
Microsoft PressPass, 6 March 2006

[Pr.4] Microsoft Research Interns Make Their Mark in Computer Usability at CHI 2003 Conference
Microsoft PressPass, 27 March 2003

[Pr.3] Large Displays Enhance Optical Flow and Close the Gender Gap in 3D Virtual Navigation
Microsoft PressPass, 3 April 2003
EurekAlert, 15 April 2003
New Scientist, 17 April 2003
New York Times, 21 April 2003 (requires subscription)
Subsequently covered by: Carnegie Mellon Newsclips, Yahoo.com, UK Yahoo.com, USA Today, Slashdot, bizInk, Morningstar, Stockwatch, WomenGamers.com, Creativepro.com, Bakersfield Channel, Milwaukee Channel, WRAL, Channel 4000, Boston Channel, SciGuy Science News, ScienceTicker, Kensei News, Mainichi Interactive, Ikson Portal, Hindustan Times, Centro Paulista, Dagbladet, BN DeStem, Vjesnik Online, Nkzagreb Online

[Pr.2] Foreign Students Fear INS is Targeting Them
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 15 February 2003
Subsequently covered by: De Virtutibus blog

[Pr.1] Students Scoff at Paying Internet Piper
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 June 2003

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