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Holiday Diversion 4: Microsoft Research Goodies

Check out this TechNet blog: “Microsoft Research – free holiday booty.” It profiles and depicts five very cool, free tools you can download and play with from Microsoft Research:

  • Kodu comes from the FUSE labs team. It’s a visual programming language built specifically for creating games that’s also simple and fun enough to appeal to kids, and let them get right to work.
  • AutoCollage is a program that uses computer vision and image processing to make collages from a collection of photos. It uses face detection, various relevancy and saliency filters, and other cool MS technologies to grab interesting parts of pictures, and then employs object selecting and blending technologies to combine images into an AutoCollage. Neat!
  • Photosynth takes photos and combines them to create a 3D scene from their visual content, and provides a POV (point of view) engine that then lets you view and move around inside that virtual world. This technology has been used by organizations that include National Geographic, NASA, and the Obama inauguration team to create “synths,” among  thousands of other such environments also available online.
  • WorldWide Telescope provides tools for viewing our universe but also enables developers to produce customized visualizations for astronomical and planetary data. It’s a real tour-de-force illustration of effective data use, and should become a popular and powerful educational tool at all levels.
  • Team Crossword is another FUSE labs goody — namely, a Web-based collaborative tool for creating and sharing crossword puzzles with your friends. Use it to start a puzzle, and then invite friends and colleagues to work together to solve it!

I hope you get time to look at and play with at least one or two of these items as you while away the hours before we all go back to the grind next Monday. Happy New Year!!

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