10 May 2006

Microsoft updates “Tech Tomorrowland” [PC Magazine]

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Microsoft's Thomas Gruver demonstrates DigiDesk
Microsoft has officially unveiled its third update to its Center for Information Work, a “Tomorrowland” of technology that attempts to envision what a future work environment might look like.

The new scenario, according to the model Microsoft researchers have developed, will be an increasingly collaborative environment where technology will be used to create context and abstract the gigabytes of information that users will be subjected to.

Technologies such as “DataLens,” “BestCom” and sectioned documents have been designed to segment and partition tasks into manageable chunks that can be accessed by a variety of platforms, Microsoft executives said. Others, such as the “Roundtable” or “RingCam,” are constantly being improved and may eventually commercialised.

The CIW sits on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Wash., and attempts to map out, and address, what issues will be faced by tomorrow’s worker. It’s a combination of focus group, ethnography, and team-building; since the center is housed inside Microsoft’s executive briefing building, vice presidents and other senior executives from Fortune 3000 companies are invited to sit down and explore the technology, according to Thomas Gruver, group marketing manager for the CIW. About 30 tours are given a week. The center is updated about every 12 to 18 months, he said.

Like the concept cars at an auto show, all, some, or none of the technologies will make it to market – or, if they do, they may be tucked inside another product.

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