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Microsoft Keeping Web Arsenal Well-Stocked

Here's a look at a few other Microsoft Research projects:

  • "Shortstop" is a research project aimed at making alerts to mobile users "aware" of the recipient's status. It makes no sense, for example, to send a text message to someone driving on the freeway, but sending it while the driver is stopped at a traffic light is acceptable. To find out more about driving patterns, researchers gave 150 Microsoft staffers special GPS units that record their moves behind the wheel. To date, more than 37,000 traffic stops occurring over 19,000 mile of driving have been analyzed, says Microsoft researcher Muru Subamani.
  • SenseWeb is a framework that will be used to add real-time data to online maps. Researcher Suman Nath says that nearly any sensor that can be linked to the Web. For instance, a traffic camera or a thermometer can easily feed data to a mapping site by using software developed by his team. Microsoft will open SenseWeb fairly soon and will allow the public to add their own sensors to the site.
  • PinPoint enables people to use global positioning systems on mobile phones to find friends and family. Microsoft has built a server that tracks contacts and sends alerts to users when certain events occur. A parent, for example, might want to when a child arrives at school. The server maintains settings for alerts and security that users create from a desktop client. The phone can display maps, directions and alerts generated by the server, says researcher Rich Hughes.

Although Tuesday's exhibits focused on the Web-related efforts, Microsoft Research has its fingers in many other pies. "It would be hard to find a Microsoft product that was not touched by Microsoft Research," says Levin.

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