Microsoft Research Lifts the Curtain on Its Latest Wares

Microsoft's TechFest features projects ranging from new hard-drive search tools to futuristic user interfaces.

"Robots to Watch Children": A scene from a B-movie starring Eric Roberts? Guess again.

The "Teddy" project was one of the many emerging technologies showcased at Microsoft Corp.s two-day, in-house TechFest showcase this week. Teddy brings a big-brother twist to something in every toy chest—in this case, a teddy bear equipped with a swiveling head, cameras and face-recognition software.

Microsoft General Manager of Strategy and Communications Kevin Schofield said that this years TechFest is running 150 demos from all of the companys research labs around the globe. The event is generally limited to Microsoft employees (about 6,000 will visit this year) and a handful of journalists, professors and other honorary guests.

Though demos like Teddy and other flashy consumer-oriented displays attract the most attention, Schofield says that other displays reflect Microsofts devotion to "getting the basics right."

That includes advanced research on preventing phishing and detecting rootkits. For users, Microsoft Research is touting a hard-drive search tool (code-named Phlat) that will allow users to narrow their searches repeatedly until the results are found. Another demo shows how Outlook can sort e-mails depending on the senders relationship with the user.

Though Schofield declined to say how many of these products will eventually make it into the real world, the tech that reaches implementation will most likely be reworked and repackaged before its sent into circulation. One such demo was a bit of technology that eventually made its way into the current MSN Search.

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