Microsoft's Asia Research Lab Turns 10 Years Old

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Microsoft on Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA), its largest such R&D facility outside of the United States, at its annual Innovation Day in Beijing.

"We came to China because we believed that there were incredible amounts of creativity and take advantage of the top universities in China and the rest of Asia," said Rick Rashid, senior vice president at Microsoft and founder of Microsoft Research.

Managing Director of MSRA Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon said that the facility has five areas of concentration: data-intensive computing; next generation multimedia; computer science fundamentals; search and online ads; and natural user interface. Hon said that new areas of research are also coming online, such as cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS).

Rashid said that Microsoft's work goes beyond IT. "If you look at technology that underlies computing, it applies to other areas of research," he said, pointing to work being done on AIDS that uses data analysis techniques developed by the company as one example.

"We're doing a number of things to improve efficiency of datacenters and computers. More than 1.5 percent of all energy is being used by computers," Rashid said, adding that sensors developed by Microsoft have helped to reduce cooling and energy consumption by over 30 percent where they have been implemented.

At the Innovation Day exhibition, the company showed off various applications, including real-time traffic mapping, "smart search" for music applications on Microsoft's Zune player and a simulator for the board game Go, designed for eventual use on the company's XBox 360 games console.

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