21 years of Microsoft experience, 11 were spent imagining the future. Together with key stakeholders we created presentations and prototypes that embodied the company’s dreams for future technology and computing.
Prior to leaving the company my primary responsibility had been managing the vision and experience within the Microsoft Home, a world class future envisioning facility housed within the Redmond Executive Briefing Center. At the time of my departure, the Microsoft Home was the most requested and highest rated session offered to business guests.
I am creative with just enough understanding for technology to enable leading technology projects. I am not technical.
I lead our teams’ effort for the vision portion of Bill Gates last CES keynote. We highlighted the concept of “information anywhere” by creating a phone hardware/software prototype that showcased 2 scenarios: a digital guide for the real world; and accessing our digital history.
Scene 1- Real World Digital Guide
We envisioned how future digital lifestyles would use phones and other evolving devices to overlay the physical world with real-time information through software and services.
Using the Vegas strip as the backdrop and looking through the prototypes camera viewer, Bill observed contextual information and recommendations overlaid onto the world, and presented real-time.
We built a phone prototype (nicknamed “phonosaurus”) that used a combo of software from research and our team. Behind the scenes technologies included: GPS, camera’s and machine visioning ,info in the cloud, contacts, events, preferences, tracking behaviors, the weather, subscriptions, even sourcing 3D model information of the world from things like Photosynth and Virtual Earth.…
In January2008, phones had cameras and GPS which allowed you to know where you were, but not what you were looking at or how it’s related to your life.
Scene 2- Digital History
Here Bill and Robbie Bachdiscuss how all types of content will be accessible and easily shared through any device, anywhere we are. Like a unified library…content available in a single view no matter where it resides (PC, phone, cloud, etc…).
An individual’s history was viewed on a timeline. The timeline was accessed from the phone and then using a gesture, shared to the large screen in the room. The transition was seamless taking into account the new screens capabilities and restructuring the UI accordingly, rendering high res- images and 3D capabilities.
2 years ago, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jim McDermott came on a tour of the Microsoft Home.
Keeping government officials informed of the possibilities that technology has enabled is in all of our best interests. This provides the opportunity for them to be proactive in their involvement to lead more and react less.
I remember Pelosi as sharp, quickly getting the concepts presented as well as offering kind words for the company saying “Thank you Microsoft for being the job creator that you are, … I thank Microsoft for the lead that they have taken in keeping us number one, and I thank you for the hospitality here to see what is happening and vision for the home of the future.”
Thinking about the past…Innovation Day 2007- Living and building Europe’s digital future
Microsoft’s Innovation Day in 2007 was set in Brussels. The event demonstrated leadership and innovation to the EU public sector and the media. The focus was on consumer safety and privacy including child safety, fraud, and game addiction. I presented 3 team vision demos and had conversations with key leaders around these topics. Scenarios presented were:
Sharing Personal Info safely A demonstration of an experience hiring a babysitter that showed how a method of reciprocation allowed participants to safely share personal information while protecting their privacy.
Keeping our Children on Track A prototype tablet designed for a child that had parental controls and content management built in. Scenarios showed touched on: safe communications, homework, and a game for which children performed chores in order to earn credits for technology play.
Browsing based on preferences and more Through an online entertainment guide, we displayed content populated by a combination of filters including your preferences, tracking your history and organizations you may subscribe to. The content included: recommendations from the school based on the current curriculum, trips taken and planned, shows based on actors we’ve watched…
It was a fun trip, although spending 3 days in Europe is never enough…
4/18/2006 we had the honor of hosting President Hu Jintao at Microsoft. The experience was amazing, especially to work with the Chinese national employees. They worked tirelessly to make the visit perfect. They genuinely cared to give their president the very best experience. Their sense of patriotism was celebratory and refreshing. I still feel high when I think of the event.
We designed a 9 minute tour that introduced the Microsoft Home. We personalized the space including vision prototypes displaying photos of places he had lived throughout his life. He was appreciative of the gesture. The tour was presented by Tim Chen, head of our Chinese efforts at the time. At one point I presented a clothing scenario in the teenagers’ closet as Tim translated. The President bowed to me, twice.
It was my job to make sure the Home visit went smoothly. I purchased a stop watch for our rehearsals to make sure we hit our marks. It’s now attached to my bulletin board as a memento. The tour ended up taking 14 minutes, the president was very interested. During the visit one of his body guards, a woman, (provided by the CIA?) ran defense keeping the press at bay. She bounced back and forth with her arms out stretched creating a barrier all the while manically chewing gum. I wanted to giggle.
Microsoft was the first place President Hu Jintao came to on his US visit.
Speaking of Presidential first visits, in the summer of 2007 we had Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triết on the first presidential visit to the US since the Vietnam War in 1975. Wow. While it was an honor to also be a part of that visit, it didn’t have the same elevated effect.