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Microsoft Unveils Latest Technology Advances and Glimpses into the Future at Innovation Day 2013
Microsoft Research Asia showcases new discoveries as part of 15th anniversary celebration

Beijing, China – October 30, 2013 – Celebrating 15 years in Asia-Pacific, Microsoft Research (MSR) revealed its latest cutting-edge technology advances at Microsoft Research Asia's Innovation Day 2013 event in Beijing.  Microsoft Research’s global leadership discussed the role of these breakthroughs in core research areas and the impact they will make in the near future, enabling people to engage with technology in ways never before imagined. The way people experience technology in the future will be much more natural and contextualized.  Technologies will increasingly work on our behalf.

Participants experienced a glimpse of this vision today by journeying through four core research themes:  Natural User Interface (NUI); Cloud and Mobile; Big Data and Machine Learning; and Research-driven Product Innovation.  Twenty-one research demonstrations were presented, several of which were presented for the first time in Asia.  

Dr. Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President and Head of Microsoft Research, shared: “I am very excited to be here today in Beijing to celebrate 15 years of success for Microsoft Research Asia, as well as to offer a look into where computing is going in the next 15 years.  We’re on the verge of truly transformational breakthroughs in computer science.  The work presented today gives us a peek at this, and shows not only how our basic research impacts Microsoft products, but also how we can impact the world through pushing the field of computer science forward.”

Dr. Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Research and Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Managing Director of MSR Asia, joined Lee, each sharing their unique perspective on innovation and the outlook for Microsoft Research.  In addition to Microsoft leadership and researchers, MSR Asia academic and government partners, Microsoft customers, and media from around Asia-Pacific were present to witness some of the latest groundbreaking technologies, including projects from the Beijing, Cambridge (UK), and Redmond labs.

As Microsoft’s largest research arm overseas, MSR Asia is a unique organization – designed to be strategically independent, where researchers work in freedom to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, impacting countries throughout Asia-Pacific and around the world today and expanding the state-of-the-art for the future in computing. 

“Microsoft Research’s mission for its global labs is to foster an open, basic research environment, to allow fresh ideas and new discoveries to flourish,” said Wing, who supervises Microsoft Research’s cooperation with core research partners globally.  “During the past 15 years, Microsoft Research Asia has been encouraging its researchers to engage in both internal and external collaborations, yielding breakthrough outcomes.   I have all the reason in the world to believe MSR Asia will continue to produce research results that advance science and technology and that reshape our lives, affecting society more broadly.”

As part of the Innovation Day 2013 press conference, Hon presented three breakthroughs.  “Kinect for Sign Language,” jointly developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Union University, uses Kinect to aim at improving the quality of life for the hearing impaired, those around them, and people across cultures.  With 360 million hearing-impaired across the globe and 21 million in China, this tool, which enables the hearing to understand sign language, holds great potential to impact countless lives.  It is a solution that incorporates Microsoft Research’s extensive research efforts and competencies in translation and natural language processing as well as speech and gesture recognition, and that is driven by the dream of breaking down communication barriers. “The implications for empowering millions are enormous and inspiring,” said Hon. 

Hon also presented "Speech to Speech Translation" and “Power Map for Excel: 3D Data Visualization and Storytelling."  The former is another example of how Microsoft technology is capable of bridging language gaps and improving cross-cultural communication, while the latter is a powerful data visualization and prediction tool already transferred into Microsoft’s Excel for a unique user experience.  Power Map provides an immersive experience for making discoveries in data, never before possible with traditional 2D tables and charts.  People are now able to present previously incomprehensible data in beautiful ways to their audiences, unleashing the power of data to create compelling business insights.

MSR Asia, established in November 1998, has been growing together with China's technology industry over the last 15 years.  With over 360 technology transfers, and over 4,000 papers published on internationally renowned academic conferences and journals, MSR Asia has also incubated important institutions including Microsoft Search Technology Center Asia (Bing) and Microsoft Advanced Technology Center.  MSR Asia has set up 10 joint laboratories with leading universities across China and has fostered over 4,000 talents.

Senior Professor Dr. Zhang Bo of Tsinghua University and member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences shared his perspective at Innovation Day 2013.  He remarked, "Since its inception 15 years ago, MSR Asia has achieved long-standing partnerships with the leading universities and research institutions in China, collaborating closely on both basic research and talent development.  Its presence here has contributed to raising the level and caliber of computing research in this country."

"MSR Asia is an organization committed to advancing the state-of-the-art in computing technology and turning dreams into reality," said Hon.  "We are proud to have produced research breakthroughs during the past 15 years – some of which we are highlighting today – but equally important, we have cultivated many world-class researchers who are now thriving and serving as the backbone of the technology industry in China, Asia-Pacific, and the world.  We are more convinced than ever that the next 15 years will see MSR Asia working with our partners to make even greater contributions to national development goals and innovation worldwide.  Though certainly significant, today is just a taste of what is yet to come."

Innovation Day is a biannual event at MSR Asia, drawing partners, researchers, colleagues, and media from around the world to experience MSR's latest research accomplishments and to explore technologies of the future.  For more information about Innovation Day 2013, please visit the event’s official website at http://www.msra.cn/InnovationDay2013.  Stay updated on MSR Asia's official blog at http://blog.sina.com.cn/msra and official Sina microblog at http://weibo.com/msra.