Craig Mundie’s TechForum: A Look Ahead

Yesterday, Craig Mundie hosted TechForum, an annual event where Craig showcases the latest inventive ideas and prototypes that have not yet been shown outside the halls of Microsoft Research and the Applied Sciences group, gathering individuals from across the company to share Microsoft’s vision for the future of technology with select media participants.

This year, Craig spoke about the emerging transformative shift in how we will use computers, what they can do for us, and who is able to use them. Computers will enable new abilities and enhance the human experience, more closely merging our digital and physical lives. Microsoft products such as Kinect for Xbox 360, Avatar Kinect and Microsoft Surface are examples of how this is already becoming a reality.

You may have seen me blog about this revolution in natural user interfaces (NUI) here and on the Next at Microsoft project, or in my last blog post, where we announced that the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit will be released this spring. It’s safe to say that this is a captivating concept for me, so I was excited to see this at the center of yesterday’s event.

In the last few years, we’ve gone through big changes in how we use computers—changes we tend to take for granted. Today your car, your television, your cell phone and many other devices are starting to display these capabilities, making computing an increasingly invisible part of our lives. In a world where computing is all around us, computers are being endowed not only with greater computing capability, but also with more and more sensing capability.

They know where they are, they can hear, they can see.  We now realize that giving the computer “vision” really means giving it the ability to not only see the image, but also to understand the image. If we want to bring the benefits of computing to billions more people, we’ve got to make those computers a lot easier for them to use. Today’s advances in natural user interfaces move in that direction—enabling us, in essence, to remove the learning curve from computing.

Seeing is believing, so here’s a video of Craig sharing similar thoughts on the future of computing, featuring footage of some prototypes and Microsoft Research projects shown at TechForum.


We’re rapidly approaching a future where computers are becoming more capable, but how we operate them is becoming simpler. We are about to enter an age of very new computing experiences, and Microsoft is working collaboratively across the company—from researchers in our global labs to product teams here in Redmond—to help deliver such a future.

Posted by Steve Clayton
Editor, Next at Microsoft Blog