TechFest ‘09

Microsoft Research is currently having it’s annual gathering in Redmond, showing the world some of the latest projects they’ve been working on – TechFest 2009.

“TechFest is an annual event that brings researchers from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world to Redmond to share their latest work with Microsoft product teams. Attendees experience some of the freshest, most innovative technologies emerging from Microsoft’s research efforts. The event provides a forum in which product teams and researchers can discuss the novel work occurring in the labs, thereby encouraging effective technology transfer into Microsoft products.”

Basically a lot of geekery, but worth watching. One of the projects that was shown yesterday which I found rather cool is panoramic video stitching software – Qik meets Photosynth as TechCrunch calls it (although it’s probably more Qik meets ICE* but anyway). Check out their video:

*ICE is short for Image Composite Editor, an advanced panoramic image stitcher which is also coming from Microsoft Research and worth a look on its own (free download).

The human camera

Fascinating stuff on television yesterday (yes that happens on occasion). It was a documentary of a guy called Stephen Wiltshire and I thought it was just stunning. Now I know some of you might have seen this already, the guy’s story isn’t really new, but it was the first I had heard/seen of him. From Wikipedia:

“Stephen Wiltshire is an architectural artist who has been diagnosed with autism. Wiltshire was born in London, England, to West Indian parents. He is known for being able to draw an entire landscape just by seeing it once.”

The clip below was part of the documentary and shows Stephen draw a panorama of London (which will take him 4-5 days) on a 4 meters wide canvas… after only flying over the city for 15 minutes with an helicopter! How’s that for a visual memory!

Here’s a link to the end result. London was the first city he did on that scale, but in the meantime many others have followed such as Rome and Tokyo for instance. I think I’m gonna stop by his shop next time I’m in London.

MIX08 (Part 1)

There’s always one difficult part about going to conferences and blogging and that is that you hear so many interesting things you want to talk about, but no time to do so because you’re paying attention. I do have some time right now though before going to the official MIX party at TAO in about an hour or so I thought I’d share some first thoughts on the conference.

Together with most of the European invites of Microsoft to MIX, we arrived in Vegas on Monday night as we had a pre-conference scheduled in on Tuesday, the day before the official start of MIX. The pre-conference is a unique opportunity to get up close with some people that will present at MIX later as well but given we’re with about 200 people it makes it more accessible to get into a conversation. In the afternoon we had the choice between some activities, for which we chose to go for the “High Rollers” – a training basically on gambling, to get you started ;) This training took place in the Stratosphere Tower, a nice enough opportunity to take some pictures and stitch them all together in this panorama.

Las Vegas Panorama

Today MIX officially started. We had the keynote in the morning with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie which got covered pretty good live by Duncan Riley at Techrunch. I’d say check out their post to get an idea of the keynote, or watch the video. There’s one thing that struck me the most and that was the Hard Rock Memorabilia demo, using the Seadragon technology within Silverlight. You can see it right here, make sure you check it out. Really cool, trust me.

hardrock

After the keynote (and the following lunch) I went out to see Lou Carbone again. I saw him at MIX07 already and found it a fascinating speech, reason enough to go see him again. Unfortunately, his MIX08 speech was the same as last year. Still very good, but been there done that.  Too late to go anywhere else so and my next session was in the same room anyway. Next up, David Armano with the Fuzzy Tail. David and I have been in touch occasionally through the AoC and on Twitter but here in Vegas we finally met in person which was good. The Fuzzy Tail wasn’t new to me as I followed the development of the presentation on his blog a couple of months ago, still good to see it presented by the man himself.

Other than that we saw some cool stuff related to the new IE8, we had again some demo on the Surface – always fascinating – and finally we joined the other MIX attendees for the official MIX party in TAO.

I know that guy

More images from MIX can be found on my Flickr account, and for more news and videos you should check out the MIX website.