TechFest 2007

TechFest is a yearly event for the whole of Microsoft Research that’s held in Redmond and is really the one oportunity for the division to show off all its work to the rest of the company under one roof. Since my team is based in Cambridge it’s more of a struggle to gain visiblity with the company because of the 5000 miles that seperate us from most of Microsoft’s employees, so TechFest is a key internal event for us.

Ordinarily the press coverage for this event is quite low key, but since this year is the Research Division’s 15th anniversary the powers that be decided to make a bigger deal of it, inviting over 80 members of the press, plus a lot of bloggers, partners and customers to “Day Zero”, which basically means “a day we slipped in ahead of the REAL techfest”.

I’ve never had much exposure to the press, since I’ve mostly worked in secrecy in the past on products like Windows and Office. This is my second big press event in the year since I joined Research (the other one being Innovation Day in Brussels) and I think I’m starting to get the swing of it.

I managed to show BubbleBoard to Ryan Block from Engadget which was a highlight, as well as get my fingers in a video that Robert Scoble was shooting of the same project (not sure if it will ever see the light of day). In the evening I walked to dinner with Tim and Jack Schofield from the Guardian. Their discussion of poetry and the innaccessibility of the Principia Mathematica was a little over my head.

We got a lot of good coverage of our work. We were showing 9 projects in our booth: Postcard (a photo frame you can send SMS and MMS to); Grab & Share (a system for grabbing video clips from the TV to share with others); ShoeBox (a digital photo box for storing your images); GlancePhone (a system for briefly glancing at your friends and family through their phone camera); Epigraph (a home display in which different family members “own” a part of the screen which they can display photos or send messages to); Text2Paper (a label printer which automatically prints SMS messages to stick on a plain old paper calendar); Text-It Notes (which allows you to send messages through SMS by writing and gesturing on a regular sticky note); TimeMill (a mirror and momentum interface that captures pictures of your visitors, which you can subsequently go back through); and BubbleBoard (a visual answer machine).

One end of our booth

Michael Calore’s coverage on Wired’s Monkeybites blog has a bunch of good photos and videos of our work, including this very cute shot of my daughter on the Postard device.

We got a brief mention from Jack Schofield in the Guardian Technology blog. Kiro7 TV in Seattle posted a good video that shows BubbleBoard in more detail, including covering the show more generally. The Seattle Times also has some great shots on Brier Dudley’s blog, and put Text2Paper and TimeMill on the cover of it’s business section this morning (which was a suprise to Stu when he went down to breakfast and saw his face reflected in the mirror of TimeMill in the paper). We also got on the Reuters feed, so stuff is popping up randomly in places like Yahoo and the India Times.

So that’s good. I’ll try and actually write something about some of these projects in the next few weks. Many of them are covered on our team website, too.


In-film details
Group photo