Microsoft presents new technology at UI

Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, visited the University on Wednesday to show the development of the company’s technology. His visit marks one of the four he will make to Universities across the nation.

Mundie met with faculty, administration and a panel of students at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center to discuss the future use of computer sciences and the progression of technology research. He also demonstrated the software and technology being developed by Microsoft, and discussed how it can be used to address global challenges facing society.

In addition to the University’s reputation for making strides in research and development, one of the reasons he said he visited the campus was because of his own past experience with the campus.

“You (the University) have one of the best computer sciences programs in the country,” Mundie said. “I have my own personal history here too. In the 1980s my supercomputing company worked in partnership with the University to get started.”

One program he demonstrated was an interactive map displaying greenhouse gas emission rates in South American rainforests and their effect on global temperatures. The map, incorporating Microsoft’s “Science Studio” program, can make climate predictions 100 years into the future, Mundie said.

At the presentation he used a computer tablet and program that recognized handwriting, voice and retinal movement. Mundie demonstrated the software’s ability to complete sentences based on memory, respond to vocal commands and track eye movements across the screen to pull up specific windows and files. He said the program could be applied to research and development to produce faster and more efficient results in all fields of study.

Mundie also played a video demonstration of gamers using a new camera developed for Microsoft’s Xbox game system. The camera, implementing stereovision technology, allows players to use their bodies in place of standard controllers.

“Microsoft always comes out with cutting edge technology,” said Ammar Husain, senior in the Engineering in reaction to the software presented. “This was a great learning experience. It was good to see firsthand the technology that will soon became a part of our daily lives.”

All technology demonstrated at the presentation was either in development by Microsoft or hypothetical end-results of products consumers might see in the future, Mundie said.

He said he has worked for 10 years developing Microsoft’s long-term technology strategy. After Bill Gates, the company’s founder and retired CEO, left, Mundie took over as head of the company’s global research operations.

“Mundie’s visit is a unique opportunity for the University,” said Rick Kubetz, head of communications for the College of Engineering. “Rarely do speakers specifically ask to speak directly with students.”

Mundie said technology research conducted at universities plays a key role in its future.

“As we continue to evolve in technology, I think we have the means to one day give the public robots and computers that will be infused into their day-to-day lives,” he said.