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Microsoft demonstrates the operation of the future office

The company reveals some of the imaginative features and future devices that will be used by offices.

Aaron Ricadela and Avi Blizovsky

(from the weekly INFORMATION WEEK - Israel)

Microsoft says it sees the future. This is at least as far as office work is concerned, and it seeks to give them the features required in the office suite, hardware and entertainment software. The company announced last weekend that it opened the information work center - a kind of visualization system that will show how the future office will work. The model was installed at the company's campus in Redmond and it demonstrates technologies that are in research and development, and even some technologies that are still in the imagination stage. The system will be demonstrated to about a thousand customers every month.

The research center describes a day in the life of an office worker who is asked to solve production problems through e-mail containing embedded video, data analysis tools, instant messages, laptops and a futuristic conference room that enables virtual meetings with partners who are in a similar room elsewhere.
The demonstration room includes hardware and software prototypes from Microsoft and its partners in the initiative: Acer, Intel and Sony's electronics division, in addition to a large number of systems that are actually boxes that don't really work, and the demonstration of their operation using computers and video equipment.
Three systems that are truly in advanced development are the Tablet PC that is expected to be announced on November 7, as well as two lab projects called BroadBench and RingCam. The BroadBench project, headed by former Xerox executive Gerry Streckwader, has produced a box 30 cm high and 1.20 m wide and it is used to present presentations of documents, messages, charts, graphs and other data in a way that will increase efficiency and save time wasted in switching between applications. It will also allow the use of graphic tools such as Photoshop and flight simulators. "The experience will be like that of IMAX movies, but we are only at the beginning of the movie," he said.

RingCam is a system consisting of speakers, microphones and digital cameras that uses experimental software to identify the speakers in the meeting so that the virtual participants can then respond to comments made by a specific participant.

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