Microsoft Phone To Support Gesture Recognition For Users On The Go

If you need further confirmation for the upcoming Microsoft Pink phones, it is probably this. In a patent application filed by Redmond this week, the company has elaborated on a gesture recognition module that will enable users to control parameters using gestures instead of the conventional taps on a touch screen phone. The inventors explain

“One drawback with such devices (touchscreen) is that they are difficult to interact with when the user cannot, or prefers not to, visually examine the screen. For example, when a user is exercising, riding a subway train, etc., the user may find it inconvenient or undesirable to look at the screen for extended periods of time. This may result in input errors by the user, or cause the user to look at the screen during at an undesirable time, generally frustrating the user experience.”

The patent application describes that by letting users to toggle between a touchscreen mode and gesture recognition mode, this problem can be solved

“In the relative gesture recognition mode, the graphical user interface elements in at least a defined region of the graphical user interface are made to be unselectable. The computer program may further include a gesture-based control module configured, in the relative gesture recognition mode, to recognize a contact point on the touch screen sensor between a digit of a user and a surface of the touch screen sensor in the defined region in which the graphical user interface elements are unselectable, and to present in the defined region a gesture control proximate to the contact point. The gesture-based control module may further be configured to identify a detected gesture based on user touch input originating from the contact point, and to send a message to an application program to adjust an operation of the portable electronic device based on the detected gesture.”

It is said that this kind of input can be used to adjust parameters like volume without having to use the touchscreen.

Windows 7 SP1 Release In Q4 2010

Since launch, Windows 7 has been well received and it is safe to consider its launch a success. However, there appears to be a lot of performance bugs – more than what Microsoft has assumed that the company is likely to have advanced the release date of their Service Pack by at least a year.

According to reports on the Inquirer, the Windows 7 SP1, which was not expected to release till 24 months of release, could now find itself available by the last quarter of this year.

This is also in line with the release dates of service packs for Microsoft’s earlier versions of Windows – the XP and Vista each of which had their service packs released close to 10 months after their launch.

However, the speculations over performance bugs is unlikely to affect the sale of the operating system. What do you think?

[via The Inquirer]

LG Panther Is First Windows Phone 7 Handset?

Ever since Microsoft unveiled their new generation mobile OS, there have been a lot of rumors about the Windows Phone 7 based handsets launching in the markets. Though a majority of them are not expected to launch until the holiday shopping season, the earliest to launch is likely to be in September.

It is now rumored that LG, the company expected to come out with the first Windows Phone 7 based handset is likely to name the device Panther. Pretty uninnovative and un-cutesy for a brand that is expected to take on the likes of iPhone and Droid.

How do you like the name? Will you be buying one Tell us in the comments.

[Best Mobile Contracts via Gizmodo]

Microsoft Smartphone On Verizon Launching Next Month?

Microsoft’s Project Pink is well and alive according to an inside source. Reuters cites the source as being informed of a Microsoft branded smartphone hitting the US market by “late spring or early summer“.

According to the claims, the phone shall run on Verizon Wireless and shall be targeted at the heavy social networkers. We are not sure of the OS though it is likely to be Windows Phone Classic considering that the newly unveiled Windows Phone 7 series phones are not expected to launch until late this year – earliest by September.

While Microsoft has all along denied these rumors, considering that the expected launch date is just over 10 weeks away, we expect the beans to be spilled sooner than later.

[via Reuters, Gizmodo]

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Investment To Exceed $1 Billion

A while back, there had been rumors that Microsoft could be acquiring RIM or Palm in order to turnaround its sagging fortunes in the smartphone segment. However, according to Bill Koefoed, a manager of Microsoft investor relations, the company could be investing as much as $1 billion in developing its Windows Phone 7 platform.

What this could then mean is that an acquisition of Palm or RIM is out of question now. One had imagined Redmond to acquire one of these handset manufacturers not just for the hardware but also the OS platform that they had built. But with so much money pumped into the research and development of the company’s in-house OS, it is unlikely that Microsoft could still be looking at an acquisition.

[via Forbes]

Real-Time Phone Conversation Translation Technology To Launch In Few Years

Imagine calling a Japanese business partner and discussing plans without either of you understanding the other person’s language! Such a real time phone conversation translation technology might in the works. Both Microsoft and Google are said to be working on such a technology for their mobile phone platforms.

This technology was recently demoed by Microsoft at the annual TechFest event though as the developers themselves claim, a perfectly usable model of this is not expected to arrive at least for a few more years. Here is a video of the technology in action

[via TechFlash]

Microsoft’s Local Search Algorithm A Privacy Nightmare?

Local search is big and everyone is jumping into this segment. And for a fact, we all tend to realize that the local results from major search engines is nothing to brag about; except if you are in a high internet density area like New York or San Francisco.

While companies have been devising different ways to go local, Microsoft’s new technology seems to offer you very relevant local search results; except that it can be a privacy nightmare.

In a patent filed recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Microsoft has described a new way to rank local search results. The inventors cite the following issues with current search results

  • Search engines make use of link authority to rank results. While they are good for most cases, they are not exactly relevant when a person is searching for say ‘Italian restaurants near MG Road, Bangalore’. This is because restaurants around MG Road in Bangalore might not necessarily have good PR value
  • Some search engines make use of  ‘click popularity’ where sites which have been clicked a higher number of times tend to be ranked higher. These sites create a positive feedback loop which does not help in showing the relevant results

To overcome these, Microsoft has proposed the usage of the users’ access log in order to study the pages visited in a specific time period and build an implicit pagerank for pages from the user log which will be used as a factor while  displaying search results. So in the earlier example, if the user has visited, results from this website could fetch higher weightage than results from a site like Yelp.

Microsoft says this technology will be particularly useful while ranking pages from intranet websites. While the algorithm sounds interesting, making use of a user’s access log sounds scary. Users are not always comfortable giving third party websites access to the sites they visit. Something does not sound right in Microsoft’s plan to record this log, processing them for implicit pageranking and delivering results back to the user.

What do you think? Are the fears justified or are they unfounded?