Der deutsche Education Blog

March, 2011

Microsoft Research Connections Blog

The Microsoft Research Connections blog shares stories of collaborations with computer scientists at academic and scientific institutions to advance technical innovations in computing, as well as related events, scholarships, and fellowships.

March, 2011

  • Microsoft Research Connections Blog

    Building a Collaborative Research Relationship with the Chinese Academy of Sciences

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    I recently had the great pleasure of visiting with staff at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing, China. CAS is China's leading academic institution and comprehensive research and development center in natural science, technological science, and high-tech innovation. The Asia-Pacific Microsoft Research Connections team has done a terrific job of establishing a relationship with CAS in recent years. That early groundwork paid off in many ways during my visit to the CAS in February.

    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections presents The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery.

    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections presents
    The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery.

    There are more than 100 institutes under CAS to focus on specific research areas. I visited the Computer Network Information Center (CNIC), which is a public institution that supports networks and information infrastructure for CAS. Professor Tieniu Tan, deputy secretary of CAS, and some researchers from different research institutes that are involved in the eScience program came to CNIC to host my visit. Among the topics we discussed were eScience-related projects and the Academic Cloud Program at Microsoft Research. I found the CAS team very welcoming and ready to share ideas. We will be building on that enthusiasm: as of February, CAS is a key Microsoft Research Connections partner for eScience in China.

    In addition to meeting one-on-one with CAS high-level staff, leading researchers, and executives, I had the pleasure of delivering my presentation, The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery. The audience included a diverse student body as well as faculty representing various research fields, such as chemistry, high-energy physics, biotechnology, geography, environment, database, computing, engineering, and automation.

    Although I was there to speak, I was also there to listen. One of my hosts, Professor Mingqi Chen, director of the Information Department of the CAS General Office, presented on cyber-infrastructure and eScience applications in CAS in three categories:

    The goal of the eScience program in CAS is to build an Open Science Cloud that serves CAS researchers and the broader scientific community. Professor Chen presented some typical eScience applications in CAS, including Galactic Wind Simulation, a real-time prediction of sandstorms system, and ChinaFLUX, which includes a large scientific facility, a field sensor-network real-time data-collection system, and an astronomical virtual laboratory.

    My visit ended on a positive note when another of my hosts, Professor Tieniu Tan, approached me to propose that we further our collaboration through a joint eScience workshop. This workshop will take advantage of the eScience experience and resources that both CAS and Microsoft Research have acquired through our past research work. We will meet again soon to work out the details of this next collaborative venture.

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    Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections

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    Project Hawaii Students Get More Done in the Cloud: Announcing Speech to Text Service

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    Project HawaiiBack in January, I blogged about Project Hawaii, a research and academic outreach program sponsored by Microsoft Research in cooperation with 20 universities worldwide. Approximately 300 students at those universities are developing applications for Windows Phone 7 this semester as part of the program. These students have already come up with new and innovative scenarios by using our previously released Relay and Rendezvous services. Beginning today, they will have another cloud service in their development arsenal: a Speech to Text Service.

    This new cloud service will enable Project Hawaii participants to expand their applications with options such as diction, transcription, and voice commands. Students will also be able to use the new service to integrate other complex applications, such as Microsoft Translator, into their development projects. There is one limitation: Speech to Text currently supports English only. There are no plans to expand into other languages at this time.

    In addition to making this service available to our Project Hawaii students, we are also releasing sample code from an application for Windows Phone 7 as part of the software development kit (SDK). This sample will allow users to speak into a phone and get transcribed text of their words in return. Plus, we'll be releasing an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) service for our Hawaii participants to use in the near future.

    —Arjmand Samuel, Research Project Manager with the Microsoft Research Connections division of Microsoft Research

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    InnerEye: Visual Recognition in the Hospital

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    The neurosurgeon hovers over the patient, preparing to excise a life-threatening brain tumor. In this delicate operation, there is no margin for error: the tumor needs to be cut out with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. By using simple hand gestures, the surgeon signals a computer to display high-resolution scans of the patient’s brain, showing the physician where to place her scalpel, detailing the boundaries between diseased and healthy tissue. No longer must the neurosurgeon stop to refer to the patient’s image data during the operation, removing her gloves and potentially compromising the sterile surgical field. The upshot for the patient: reduced time under anesthesia and a lower risk of introduced infection.

    Interactive Segmentation of CT and MR Scans

    Science fiction? Far from it. This scenario and others like it are on the verge of realization thanks to ground-breaking InnerEye project being conducted by Microsoft Research and a host of collaborators, including Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, The University of Oxford, Cornell Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Washington, Kings College London, and Cambridge University Hospitals

    The analysis of medical images is essential in modern medicine. As images have achieved higher and higher resolutions, the increasing amount of patient data has presented new challenges and opportunities, from diagnosis to therapy. The InnerEye research shows how a single, underlying image-recognition algorithm can enable a multitude of clinical applications, such as semantic image navigation, multimodal image registration, quality control, content-based image search, and natural user interfaces for surgery.

    InnerEye takes advantage of advances in computer-human interactions that have put computers on a path to work for us and collaborate with us. The development of a natural user interface (NUI) enables computers to adapt to you and be more integrated into your environment via speech, touch, and gesture. As NUI systems become more powerful and are imbued with more situational awareness, they can provide beneficial, real-time interactions that will be seamless and naturally suited to your context—in short, systems will understand where you are and what you’re doing.

    At this year’s TechFest—the annual event that showcases the latest work from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world—InnerEye is one of several projects that show where Microsoft is headed with NUI technologies, and how “futuristic” computing experiences are quickly becoming a reality. Building on the success of Kinect—a prime example of NUI technology reaching consumer scale—Microsoft Research continues to explore technologies that will enable the coming shift in how humans will communicate with machines, and vice versa. The possibilities are seemingly endless in how we approach the integration of computing into our lives and can enable a new era of creativity, social interaction, and technological scenarios.

    Antonio Criminisi, Researcher, Microsoft Research and Kristin Tolle, Director, Natural User Interface Team, Microsoft Research Connections division of Microsoft Research

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