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Microsoft Seeds University 'Virtual Earth' Projects

Microsoft last week announced 21 winners of a $1.1 million program to help university researchers develop advanced mapping and location-based search technologies.

The company's "Virtual Earth and SensorMap" request for proposals yielded projects from across the university research community that involved innovative ways to collect location-based data and then represent the data in virtual three-dimensional mapping applications.

Stewart Tansley, a program manager in the External Research & Programs group in Microsoft, said the project has the potential to "change the way people live, commute to work, or build a structure.…"

The Virtual Earth RFP received about 80 proposals from 17 countries, and SensorMap received 60 proposals from 13 countries, Microsoft said.

Among the awardees was Tarek Abdelzaher, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who said he wants to use Microsoft SensorMap technology to monitor bird sounds, heartbeat, and location from sensors tagged to the bird for biological study. Another project involves sharing data from wearable activity-monitoring sensors, such as a jacket that can tell most of the time what the person wearing it is doing.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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