Portrait of Nicolas Villar

Nicolas Villar

Director, System Integration


Nicolas Villar works on Microsoft Premonition (opens in new tab): a system for monitoring biodiversity and detecting biological threats, such as infectious diseases and invasive insect species, by using advanced hardware, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. The system consists of three main components: devices that monitor insect activity in real-time and collect biological samples, a cloud-based metagenomic analysis platform that identifies the organisms and pathogens in the samples, and a data analytics engine that generates insights and predictions based on the collected data.

Previously, Nicolas was a Principal Researcher based at Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK. There, he co-led the Connected Play (opens in new tab) initiative, and was a member of the Sensors and Devices (opens in new tab) research group. His background is in embedded interactive systems, working at the intersection of computer science, ubiquitous computing, human-computer interaction and design.

Nicolas co-led the development of Project Torino, (opens in new tab) an educational tool to teach blind and low-vision children the fundamentals of programming. He co-developed Project Emma (opens in new tab), a platform to study the mitigating effects of vibration on tremors experienced by Parkinson’s patients. He led the R&D of Project Zanzibar (opens in new tab), a play and interaction platform in the form of a thin, flexible sensing mat that can identify and track physical objects placed on its surface, as well as user’s touch and hand gestures. He was also one of the creators of .NET Gadgeteer (opens in new tab), a modular electronics ecosystem to accelerate development of custom electronic devices.