During the budget debates of 2013, Vice-President Joe Biden famously proclaimed: “Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.” There is no doubt a lot of logic behind this statement. If you are spending money in one area but not in others that is the best indication of where you place the greatest importance. If that is case, it is clear that Microsoft prioritizes innovation. Between 2010 and 2012, corporate investment in R&D increased from $8.7 billion to $9.8 billion, or about 14 percent of the company’s total revenue during those years.
Microsoft’s R&D teams are focused on a wide array of topics in computer software and hardware engineering, including computational science, computer networking and machine learning. Indeed, Microsoft Corporation is a multinational corporation that is an industry leader in fields such as computer software, personal computers and other consumer electronics. Therefore, it is never surprising to see the company filing and receiving patents on a variety of user interfaces, cloud computing technologies, advances for the popular Xbox system, or number of Internet and social media related innovations.
The company is still extending its ownership of computing technologies, especially Internet-based services, and in late November it was announced that the company would be buying mobile email solutions startup Acompli for an undisclosed price speculated to be about $200 million. Microsoft’s R&D activities in video gaming, a major focus for the company over the past decade, has been paying off big for the company as the Xbox One sold the most consoles during this recent Black Friday, beating out both the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii U.
But Microsoft offers much more, also providing resources for innovation to smaller businesses all over the world through it’s network of more than 100 Microsoft Innovation Centers (MICs) designed to work with communities, students and entrepreneurs. In May of this year, the company announced the opening of the first MIC in the United States, located in Miami. Microsoft’s global commitment to supporting innovation has greatly increased in North Africa in recent years through the activities of its Microsoft 4Afrika program, an organization that supports business startups across the continent.
Today we focus on recently published patent applications with an emphasis on technologies and innovations relating to the Internet, social media and cloud computing. Microsoft’s recently published patent applications include a number of Internet-based products and services, such as a method for identifying elements of a web page that can support voice input commands. Another patent application discusses improved methods for accessing applications on a single computing storage while using multiple displays. We also shared a patent application disclosing an improved routing service which is optimized for bicyclists.
Microsoft’s Recent Patent Applications
Internet technologies are an area of continued focus for Microsoft’s computing innovations. Techniques for finding elements of a web page with which users can interact through voice commands are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140350928, entitled Method for Finding Elements in a Webpage Suitable for Use in a Voice User Interface. The method of providing a voice user interface that would be protected involves the analysis of a document to identify an interactive element comprising one or more phrases and comparing a voice command of a user to the one or more phrases to generate a click signal. This system is designed to enable Internet users to more easily find voice-operated interactive elements which have been coded into a web page.
The experience of browsing through online stores may become a little more personalized thanks to the technology disclosed by U.S. Patent Application No. 20140337160, which is titled Considering Social Information in Generating Recommendations. The patent application claims a computer-implemented method of processing transaction data that involves receiving recommendation information which indicates that a commercial transaction has been completed by a member of a user’s social graph and displaying that information to the user. This invention provides a platform to retail establishments who want to capitalize on buyer recommendations from social contacts, which are generally more valuable than recommendations from strangers.
Enhanced cloud computing systems which achieve a higher efficiency of computing resources for users, enabling quicker user interaction, have also been targeted by Microsoft. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140351189, filed under the title Prediction of User Response Actions to Received Data, claims a method executed in a computing device to predict user response actions which involves the tracking, analysis and storage of a pattern of a set of user actions. This innovation aims to both improve the speed with which users interact with network resources but also improve on conventional methods used to predict user responses, which have resulted in vague or generic patterns which aren’t useful to individuals.
Microsoft’s PowerPoint software is well-known as a leading software solution for creating business presentations and the user interface of this program may get a boost due to the technology expressed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140344744, filed under the title Objectizing and Animating Images. This innovation is intended to make it easier to develop graphically rich presentations without requiring the use of a third-party image editor. The computer-implemented method of animating objects that would be protected involves receiving a command for objectizing an image, recognizing and creating an object within that image and applying an animation to the object. More effective user interfaces for computing products, specifically hardware displays, are discussed within U.S. Patent Application No. 20140351722, which is titled User Interface Elements for Multiple Displays. This patent application would protect a method of managing windows on a computing device through the use of a windowing system that enables the tiled of application windows on multiple displays connected to the same computing device. This invention is designed to address shortcomings in using multiple displays with previous application windowing systems used in most computing devices by supporting a more intuitive interface for connecting the displays.
Perhaps one of the best lines seen so far in a patent application featured in the Companies We Follow series comes from U.S. Patent Application No. 20140349745, filed under the title Wireless Gaming Protocol. It reads: “Gamers hate to wait, especially when facing their imminent virtual demise.” As we mentioned above, Microsoft’s Xbox One has been winning the video game console competition in retail stores and the company is parlaying the knowledge it’s gained in video gaming over the past decade or so to capitalize on research and development in this field. The patent application claims a method for establishing, maintaining, managing or terminating communications between an access point and a client in a wireless network supporting a gaming environment. The system is designed for better regulation of the latency which occurs between a console and an accessory to reduce the amount of time between a user action and a corresponding game action.
We were also intrigued to learn more about a Microsoft innovation which is configured to provide better routing tools to cyclists who are trying to get from one place to another on a bike. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140343847, which is titled Bicycle Routes With Elevation, would protect a computer-implemented method that involves receiving a bicycling route request from a user, obtaining a set of potential routes, combining the routes with elevation data and selecting the best route based on the score of each potential route. This innovation is designed to provide elevation information about a route directly to a rider so that he or she can take that into account when trying to select the route offering the shortest distance or the best exercise.