Craig Mundie – Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft – “More Like Us: Computing Transformed”

Craig Mundie gave a lecture entitled ‘More Like Us: computer Transformed’ at the University of Melbourne on the 29th of March, 2011. He demonstrated some of the future capabilities of the Microsoft Kinect, including collaborative efforts and hacks by users. Microsoft is trying to push the Kinect into the business arena, and Craig demonstrated a kind of virtual conference where the Kinect captures your movements and inserts you as an avatar into a virtual conference scenario populated by other avatars. It looked uncanny and there were a few bugs. I was wondering during the demonstration if videoconferencing was being pushed too far… On the other hand, this is simply and extension of virtual immersive environments such as Second Life, with added movement capture.

Craig argues that computers should become assistants in the background and that htere shoulb be natural user interaction with the computer. Mind you, this is coming from the company that not so long ago gave us the ‘Clippie’ and the dog assistants in Word giving us suggestions of how to use the program and interrupting our typing. So much for transparency… He also said that Microsoft is working on smart phones that will be able to handle complex processes. For example, you could tell you phone that you want a ticket to go to Sydney tomorrow, and…voila: the phone would research the web for the best price, buy the ticket and do the check-in for you. It does raise some serious concerns about privacy and data protection, but in a world where most users on Facebook display their full birthday on their public profiles, it might succeed!

Craig Mundie and Bill Gates

photo by Dan Farber – Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC 2.0)