Live Labs Just Keeps Innovating

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Lately, people have been surprised by some of the things that the Microsoft Live Labs team has been putting out. Why is Microsoft making an iPhone app?, I’ve heard people say. Well, why not? The goal of Live Labs is to think outside the box, innovate, create, and push those creations live to the public frequently. The group, created about three years ago, is just now really taking off. According to Microsoft Live Labs Project Manager Alex Daley, we’re going to start seeing output from Live Labs “every few weeks” where last year, it may have been every few months instead.

Have you seen everything Live Labs has released recently? No doubt you heard about the SeaDragon iPhone app, but maybe you missed something else. Look at what Live Labs has been up to lately:

  1. SeaDragon iPhone app: The new SeaDragon app (see our video) was a hobby project by Ben Vanik of Live Labs. With it, you can browse several online collections- the Library of Congress maps from the TED demo or a two-billion by two-billion pixel map of the world. You can also load custom content via a RSS feed or just upload your massive images to Photosynth or PhotoZoom.
  2. Photosynth: One of the most popular releases from Live Labs so far is Photosynth (see our video), an online tool for uploading and browsing collections of photos in 3D. In November, the technology was also integrated into Live Maps.
  3. Social Streams: Around election time, we were introduced to the Political Streams project, which analyzed news coverage and social media from across the internet, including blogs, newsgroups, and web sites. The site tracked what stories were popular and if that popularity was increasing or decreasing. The underlying technology powering the project is Social Streams, which could be carried on to support other projects in the future, even though it has been removed as of now.
  4. Thumbtack: More recently, we saw the launch of Thumbtack, an online notebook for collected links, text, and media found on the web. The tool, ideal for those doing research, also allows you to collaborate with others by allowing them to also add clips and notations to the collected items.
  5. Web Sandbox: Another Live Labs project is Web Sandbox, a tool that addresses the problem of sites running third-party code that can slow them down or hamper the experience either on purpose or by mistake. The Web Sandbox addresses this problem through virtualization. We provide an opportunity to test the Sandbox and find out whether it prevents the attacks you’re concerned about.  It's designed to improve the security, isolation and quality of service for your site and your users.
  6. Entity Extraction: This project focuses on using machine learning to identify meaningful text in documents. The idea with this is that you could highlight text on any website and get additional information in a pop-up window. For example, highlight an address and get a popup map. Unlike with semantic web projects, Entity Extraction could retrieve this information from even the “unstructured web.”

These are just some of the projects the Live Labs team is working on. You can explore some others here. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

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