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Yesterday we shared a few of the videos Microsoft had released in anticipation of the company’s upcoming sixty second long Super Bowl Commercial. Now, to the joy of many, the official short is available to watch on the company’s YouTube channel. Just as our UK Editor, Richard Edmonds stated yesterday – it “will pull at your heart strings”.

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A Taiwanese company by the name of Polytron Technologies has built a device seemingly from the future, or our dreams. Their creation is an almost completely transparent smartphone made up of smart glass with liquid crystal molecules that can display images. The result is a see-through phone, with the exception of the batteries, MicroSD card and some electronic components.

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Winners of Microsoft's Imagine Cup 2012

Registration has opened up for the 2013 Microsoft Imagine Cup for sudents aged 16 and above. The technology competition is in its 11th year, and to more inspire students and encourage a wider variety of aspiring innovators to participate, Microsoft has redesigned the Imagine Cup to cover the World Citizenship, Games and Innovation. If that wasn't enough, the prize money has been raised to $300,000 (US). 

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Nokia has been known to do some very innovative things with their phones especially in creating new technology (see their flexible display).  So it's with great interest to see them explain their "ClearBlack" screen system to the masses--or at least attempt to.

For those who don't know, Nokia uses ClearBlack screens on a few of their phones, including the Lumia 710, 800 and 900 series. In simplest terms, it's a circular polarizer that sits between the GorillaGlass and LCD/AMOLED screen, resulting in glare-elimination, higher contrast and better readability due to the elimination of reflected light. It is similar to wearing polarizing sunglasses and that effect but is much more complicated.

In the post on Nokia Conversations, they explain the multiple layers in ClearBlack and what they do:

There’s both a linear polariser and retardation layers between the surface of your phone and the display. When light hits your screen, this is what happens:

  1. It hits the linear polariser, this vertically polarises the light. (Polarising means – roughly – aligning the wave vibration in a particular direction).
  2. Then it hits the circular polariser retardation layer. This converts the light again, making it right-circularly polarised
  3. Then it hits the screen and bounces off it, switching the rotation of the light to leftist.
  4. It goes back through the retardation layer. When this happens, the light becomes horizontally polarised.
  5. Finally, it hits the linear polariser, since the light is horizontally polarised at this point it can be blocked entirely by this optical solution.

We almost wrapped our head around that explanation. It's certainly complex and from our usage, we really like the result--seriously, go check out the Lumia 710 at your local T-Mo store to get an idea.  Anyways, it's great to see such unique and proprietary technology coming to Windows Phones.

Source: Nokia Conversations; Thanks, Residing, for the heads up

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You may have heard mention about seamless computing but a presentation at Microsoft's TechEd Australia 2011 really brings the concept home. Nsquared is an Australian software development company that specializes in surface applications. Their keynote presentation at TechEd utilized various platforms that included Windows Phone 7, Surface, Windows 7, Kinect and Silverlight to demo the potential seamless computing has.

We've seen such technology concepts used in movies and television shows and seeing the technology used in a live demo definitely ups the coolness factor.  Everything used in the video is commercially available and it will be interesting to see what mainstream applications for seamless computing will surface in the near future.

source: istartedsomething

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Bing Vision technology gets explained

Over at iStartedSomething, Long Zheng posted a nice little clip from Microsoft Research dealing with 2D object recognition, which for those who have been following, is instantiated in Windows Phone "Mango" as Bing Vision (see demo). The tool of course allows to you scan various 2D objects like CDs, DVDs, posters, barcodes, etc. which can then access a database for pricing and product info.

In this brief segment, Rick Szeliski from Microsoft Research’s Interactive Visual Media group goes into detail of how this works. While it's some heady stuff, most of you should be able to watch the ~4 minute segment and get an understanding of how this stuff happens and what the current limitations are--specifically 3D objects and "generics" likes recognizing your pet or people.

While Google has had Goggles for awhile and all of this is based on pre-existing tech, it's neat to see it explained. Plus it doesn't take the magic away when you actually use Bing Vision on your phone (as anyone who has demoed this to a non-techy can attest too). Pretty amazing work when you think about it.

Read moe at iStartedSomething

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