This past month at Microsoft’s annual TechFest, Microsoft Research demoed three new research projects powered by Windows Azure which aim to unify data to empower discovery and sharing.

All three projects – Microsoft Translator Hub, ChronoZoom and FetchClimate! – involve machine learning and/or computing big data sets. Using Windows Azure helps each project accomplish significant computations and allows all to be used by online communities in the cloud. These tools are primarily used by scientists and researchers, but all are available to the general public for download.

Microsoft Translator Hub – Microsoft Translator Hub implements a self-service model for building a highly customized automatic translation service between any two languages. Microsoft Translator Hub empowers language communities, service providers and corporations to create automatic translation systems, allowing speakers of one language to share and access knowledge with speakers of any other language. By enabling translation to languages that aren’t supported by today’s mainstream translation engines, this also keeps less widely spoken languages vibrant and in use for future generations. This Windows Azure-based service allows users to upload language data for custom training, and then build and deploy custom translation models. These machine translation services are accessible using the Microsoft Translator APIs or a Webpage widget. 

ChronoZoom – Powered by Windows Azure and SQL Azure, ChronoZoom is a collaborative tool that organizes history-related collections in one place. Given there are thousands of digital libraries, archives, collections and repositories, there hasn’t been an easy way to leverage these datasets for teaching, learning and research. With ChronoZoom, users can easily consume audio, video, text, charts, graphs and articles in one place. Using HTML5, ChronoZoom enables users to browse historical knowledge affixed to logical visual time scales, rather than digging it out piece by piece.

 FetchClimate!: FetchClimate! is a powerful climate data service that provides climate information on virtually any point or region in the world and for a range of years. Deployed on Windows Azure, it can be accessed either through a simple web interface, or via a few lines of code inside any .NET program.  All climate datasets are stored on Windows Azure as well.

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. More than 850 Ph.D. researchers focus on more than 60 areas of computing and openly collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art of computing, help fuel the long-term growth of Microsoft and its products, and solve some of the world’s toughest problems through technological innovation. Microsoft Research has expanded over the years to seven countries worldwide and brings together the best minds in computer science to advance a research agenda based on an array of unique talents and interests. More information can be found here.