After almost five months on board, I'm now attending the MS101 new hire class in Redmond. It's my first trip to Microsoft Headquarters and I continue to be amazed by this place. There's about 70 of us here from around the world in a number of customer-facing roles, so it's a great opportunity for new perspectives and finding out more about what and how this place ticks. But now for the cool parts that we got to see today...
Microsoft's Center for Information Work provides a vision of the collaborative workspace of the future via a fictitious, but real-world, scenario for handling business processes. Our tour put each of us in the role of various entities in bringing a new drug to market, and as part of the pharmaceutical development team I (not pictured) got to play with the StraTech monitor that essentially envelops you as part of the productivity toolset. Note to self: send e-mail to manager requesting increase in hardware budget for this coming year.
Microsoft's Home of the Future provides a five-to-ten year vision of how technology may enhance our very living spaces (kitchen, living room, entertainment room, dining room, bedroom) with features like 'skinnability' - providing integrated wallpaper, lighting, and musical ambiance perhaps to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday or redo a child's room to make it suitable for a visit from grandma. It was like being in a Jetsons cartoon, except real. While you can't just hop up to Redmond and take a look, you can see how Disney has adapted this same concept and Microsoft technologies to create the Innoventions Dream Home at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Should be interesting to see how much of all this future stuff comes true and how fast to arrives for the average person!
Well, actually some of the stuff is here. The Center for Information Work and Microsoft Home get an overhaul every few years, and we visited on the tail end of the lifespan of the former. One of the technologies featured evolved into Microsoft Roundtable (http://www.microsoft.com/uc/products/roundtable.mspx) and the DigiDesk is somewhat of a precursor to Microsoft Surface. In terms of Microsoft home, the use of RFID in food items to indicate what's in the pantry is something that's floated around for a while. I even found mention of an 'intelligent coffee pot' (http://www.bornrich.org/entry/intelligent-coffee-machine-that-reads-minds/)!