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crowd sourcing

Microsoft Research is both an amazing establishment and frustrating one. It’s amazing because of the work they do - the future of technology being built today! It’s frustrating though because it can take years before we see the effects of such projects in commercial applications. With that understanding, it’s curious to see what Bing Now brings to the table.

Bing Now is a demonstration app by Microsoft Research that utilizes your phone’s microphones to gauge how crowded a particular restaurant or bar is at the moment. The idea behind it is that a user will check-in via Foursquare and during that process, a 6-10 seconds audio clip is recorded and analyzed for information. With 80% accuracy, the Bing Now app was able to predictably estimate the amount of people at the establishment and more. Users can also listen to the sample on their phones to hear it themselves.

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Microsoft's live-survey app code named 'BrushFire' is in early alpha stages of development

The notion of using live feedback and crowdsourcing during events isn't new--heck your teachers probably did when they asked you to "raise your hands" when voting on something as a kid. But this is 2012 and we need something with a little more bite to it. BrushFire is such an attempt.

Made by Microsoft (and technically for internal use only at the moment) the app is is still in the "alpha" stage meaning don't expect it to actually work. But the concept here is what's neat. From the app description:

"This is for internal MSIT use only. The application allows users to complete surveys by supplying a provided code. The application is alpha and only demonstrates the first activity type of survey. Future versions will include other types of activities. You can use the code MSIT to sample the application. "

How BrushFire works, in theory, is when a presenter at a conference wants to get feedback or interact with the audience in some e.g. a survey, they can fire one up and have it broadcast through this app to the audience. The audience can then take the survey on their phones and the info is calculated in real time. This type of feedback is often done with product testing and audience screenings of movies but now the technology can go anywhere and be configured nearly on the fly.

There's no word if the app and service will go forward, be cross-platform etc (though it'd make sense to be on iOS and Android if maximum audience participation is wanted) but the idea behind it seems extremely useful. It's always nice to take a peek behind Microsoft's curtain a bit.

Thanks, anon, for the info

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