Microsoft Paint has come standard on Windows PCs for a good long while now. While we have a soft spot for Paint, it hasn’t really changed with the technology. Now Microsoft research is working on an application that could be this generation’s Microsoft Paint. It’s called Project Gustav, and it actually looks pretty impressive.
Gustav is meant to mimic real paint in a way that the (apparently poorly named) MS Paint, never has. The application plays nice with Wacom tablets for a more realistic painting experience. Different colors don’t just flow together in Gustav, they blend to create new colors just like real paint. The angle and speed of brushstrokes also create authentic looking ridges and swirls. It’s not that we are art experts here, but Project Gustav just looks like fun. There’s even multitouch support if you fancy some finger painting. There’s a video preview here, if you want to see the possible future of art on Windows.
If you've ever been subjected to a babel of echoing voices during a teleconference, Microsoft Research is working on a solution. As demonstrated (link requires Microsoft Silverlight) at this week's TechFest, MR's audio spatialization project enables a PC with stereo speakers to spatially separate different members of a teleconference. Audio spatialization's been used for years in 3D gaming, but Microsoft Research has added a new twist: to make it work for teleconferencing, it's also added echo cancellation. As researcher Zhengyou Zhang puts it:
Audio spatialization uses speakers to create the illusion that call attendees have different locations spatially. This allows you to use the audio sense you already have, that you normally use in conversation, to isolate who you’re talking to, and to associate a location in space with a particular individual... In a conference where there are multiple voices coming out of multiple speakers, it becomes important to eliminate the echoes that might naturally occur.
Microsoft Research's latest chance to shine is this week's TechFest 2009. Microsoft Research has a long list of innovations, including the Microsoft Surface touch-sensitive interface, the Unwrap Mosaic video editor, the Songsmith music composing utility, Image Composite Editor, and many more. TechFest serves two purposes: it makes sure that everyone at Microsoft can tap into what's being developed at Microsoft Research, and it acts as a sort of high-tech equivalent to an auto show, demonstrating the concepts that might (or might not) make their way into future products from Redmond.
This year's TechFest features projects as varied as combining multiple cell phone videos to create a high-res version; using digitized books on video DVD to create a high-capacity, low-cost library and school resource for developing countries, and ways to create Augmented Reality, which overlays digital data with real-world information, to name just a few.
So, how important are Microsoft Research projects to Microsoft's future? As Microsoft Research head Rick Rashid sees it, the investment Microsoft makes in research is "really about an investment in survival." What do you think is the coolest concept at this year's TechFest? Join us after the jump and tell us about your favorites.
As the UK's PC Pro website puts it, SecondLight is like "Surface on steroids." A product of Microsoft's Cambridge, England research labs, SecondLight projects an image through the table, enabling a translucent surface placed on top of the Surface tabletop to display additional information, such as place names, an interior view of an object, and much more.
To learn more about how SecondLight works, join us after the jump.
Microsoft demonstrated its newly-unveiled Unwrap Mosaic video editing research project this week at SIGGRAPH. Unwrap Mosaic enables users to add shapes ("artifacts") to home video. As Gizmodo describes it, you can use it to put "a handlebar mustache on Grandma."
If that makes Unwrap Mosaic sound no more sophisticated than a spray-paint can in the hands of a tagger, consider Geek.com's summary:
[Unwrap Mosaic] is best described as the Photoshop of video editing tools. With UM you can literally take a video and change the appearance of the objects it contains. The demonstration video shows this in action with the male star having a moustache, bushy eyebrows and rosy cheeks added. The result looks natural, moving realistically with the face, and the first-time viewer would think he’d had a moustache all along.
Don't go banging down the doors at your local "Software-R-US" store or start surfing for your own copy of Unwrap Mosaic just yet, though. It's still a research project, but you can learn more at the Microsoft Research website. Unwrap Mosaic is just one of 13 different presentations that Microsoft is offering at SIGGRAPH 2008.
Are you looking forward to the chance to use photo-editing tools on your videos? Worried about a further blurring of the line between reality and "virtual reality"? Sound off after the jump!