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7/15/2008
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Microsoft To Show Off Spherical Multitouch Computer

Later this month, Microsoft Research will demonstrate a spherical display that can be interacted with through touch. What it could eventually be used for is anyone's guess: it's apparently been paired with a globe application, but is a study in user interfaces as much as anything else.

Later this month, Microsoft Research will demonstrate a spherical display that can be interacted with through touch. What it could eventually be used for is anyone's guess: it's apparently been paired with a globe application, but is a study in user interfaces as much as anything else.The display, with the not-so-creative name of Sphere, is multiuser and multitouch, much like Microsoft's Surface table-top computer. There's been speculation about Sphere's existence for some time, and glimpses of it have showed up in a Microsoft Research video, but this will be Sphere's public debut. The project is headed up by Microsoft researcher Andy Wilson.

Sphere uses an infrared camera and projector concealed within the base of the device, and users can interact with it without obscuring the images in the display. It will be on display at DemoFest, part of Microsoft's upcoming Research Faculty Summit, where I'm told Microsoft will make some sort of multicore announcement, as contemplated by ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley.

DemoFest will show off projects developed by academia, Microsoft, and partnerships between the two. Another interesting technology -- and one that has significant potential for eventual inclusion in actual product form -- is Salsa, social networking technology for Outlook that was first shown off at Microsoft Research's annual TechFest conference earlier this year.

Among the other technologies being demonstrated are a multitouch "UnMousePad," a Visual Studio plug-in called Deep Intellisense aimed at providing developers with a way to understand why code was written the way it was, machine translation, a troubleshooter for multithreaded software, pen-based computers, and new data center design techniques.

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