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Another fun project on display was the result of Microsoft researcher Brian Cross' idea for how to use mobile phones that are discarded when users upgrade. His Wimobot is a small robot that uses the phone as its "brain," he said. In his demonstration, he sends a text message that is a small program from a phone to the phone in the robot. The program instructs the robot to lower a pen onto the white board it sits on and draw a square.
Andy Wilson, also a company researcher, is developing a device that could serve as a less expensive form of the surface computer that Microsoft recently unveiled. That computer will cost thousands of dollars. Wilson's invention uses a projector to display an application onto any surface, like a table top. Two infrared lasers pointed at the surface would allow users to grab and drag items with their hands.
The company developers who showed off the projects work in Microsoft Research, a group of around 800 researchers developing about 60 projects. In his opening remarks on Tuesday at the summit, Rico Malvar, managing director of Microsoft Research, said
that the mission of the group is to expand the state of the art in areas it does research, rapidly turn innovative technologies into Microsoft products and ensure that Microsoft products have a future.
Without getting more precise, he said the group uses a small portion of Microsoft’s $7 billion research and development budget.