Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

PDC - Microsoft Research Keynote

I saw stuff during this keynote that was cooler than anything I’ve seen in a long time. Straight up, pure, sexy, cool code.

Dr. Rick Rashid, Senior VP of Microsoft Research opened with a review of the recent activites of MSR. He talked about their commitment to research and their close relationships with the academic community.

The first demo was from the database guys at MSR. We all know about TerraServer, which was a massive database of satellite images of the surface of the earth. Searchable, web services, etc. All cool. Now they’re looking the other way. Into space. Astronomy. Same idea. WOW! The demo was little bit less peformant than the demoer wanted, but it was still very impressive.

Next demo was about community software. As a blogger, this demo got my mind spinning. She showed a dockpanel in Longhorn that was keeping track of all her personal stuff… pretty typical WinFS at this point. But then she fired up something that was maybe a feed aggregator… maybe a community graphing tool, I’m not sure. She was browsing feeds, navigating links, opening items. All from an amazing looking graphical interface. Sweet stuff.

The final demo was absolutely spectacular. This was about using the Tablet PC and ink technologies in an education environment. Effectively using an Ink app as a “smart client” (sorry, couldn’t help myself–see last post) on top of a powerful utility library like MatLab or a newtonian physics library.

For the MatLab demo, imagine this: write a couple of simple equations. Circle them. Squiggle a special gesture and up pops a chart of those equations. Change the equation… squiggle… updated chart. Write a new question… swuiggle… new series on the chart. Very cool stuff.├é Then it starts to get crazy…

He wrote out a series of equations describing the movement of a pendulum. Selected them as a group. Drew a line with a pendulum hanging from it. Used a gesture to set the fulcrum, and POW the pendulum starts swinging. Wow.

Then he made it crazier. He brought in a set of equations that described ballistic path… a baseball being hit by a bat. Draw character… Draw ball… Select equations… select ball… click animate…

And the ball flies over the outfield fence!

This was an amazing demo. I’ve always been skiptical of the whole Ink thing, but I am now converted. I’m giggling to myself just remembering it. :)