Microsoft TechFest 2007

March 9, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Microsoft | 2 Comments

I attended Microsoft TechFest the other day with Hany and Meshref. For those that don’t know, TechFest is an annual Microsot-employee conference (although this year they allowed some members of the press to attend) that highlights the  research being done by Microsoft researchers around the world.

As many of you know, I love gadgets and technology! As it’s a Microsoft employee-only event, there are a lot of confidential things that I can’t disclose – but there are some things that have been mentioned by the press already (since they were invited) so I will just talk about those 🙂

– Personal Audio Space – This is an amazing technology where basically there is an array of speakers in front of you and somehow, it creates your own individual audio space. If you stand in this exact spot, you will hear a certain piece of music and if you take just one or two steps to the right you can hear another totally different piece of music. People can stand close to each other and hear different things. And if you stand outside of these two spots, you will hear nothing! I definately need one of these at home, so I can listen to the TV without waking my wife up (right now I use wireless headphones!)

Asirra – This product was just released a few days ago. Basically, you’ve all probably seen those CAPTCHA blocks where you have to enter certain characters for a website to verify if you are human. If you make this image too simple, then there are image recognizers out there that can fool the website. If you make it too complex, then the humans won’t be able to pass it. Enter Asirra. They use images of cats and dogs. They have 12 pictures of cats and dogs, and if you identify all the cats correctly you pass. This is very easy for humans to do, but much harder for software. The trick is though, you need a huge database of images for this to work (if you only had 10 images for example, then a human can manually classify them and let his malicious software run)…Anyway, the researchers teamed up with to get over 2,000,000 images to do this. Also there is a cute little ‘adopt me’ link under each image, so if you like one of the pets you can adopt it right away 🙂 One slight problem with the adoption thing though – what if the pet is not in the same area as you (very likely!) hmmm…

There is A LOT more which you can find more about in the Techfest website. Some other really fascinating things had to do with Surface Computing initiatives. That stuff was just mind blowing…

A new Microsoft Research Center is opening in Egypt by the way. It’s focus will be on Applied Research and is only one of two centers of its kind that Microsoft has. They are currently hiring and looking for talented individuals so if you are interested (or even just want more information about it), please contact me and I will try to put you in touch with the right people.



  1. Actually about the MS lab in Egypt, I talked with them and they told me it’s better not to mention it in newsgroups and blogs as their team is still small, which means that they can’t handle a big number of CVs submitted to them, currently they will rely only on personal recommendations.

    Oh, the first sentence in your post contains something wrong, I think you meant “with” not “was”

  2. Thanks for the correction – I updated it…

    As for not mentioning the MS lab in Egypt…As you can see, I am requesting people contact me first 🙂

    In general, I don’t believe in taking anything down from my blog unless there is a really good reason.

    Besides, if anyone is also really interested, they can just look them up on a web (i.e. its not a big secret).

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