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Monday, September 27, 2004
Microsoft develops robot language

Microsoft has lifted the lid on new technology it is currently developing, including a graphical programming language that allows people to control robots with a smartphone.

At a technology fair in Brussels, researchers from the Berlin University of Technology and Microsoft Research Cambridge demonstrated the Visual Robot Development Kit (VRDK), a graphical programming language that makes the development of robotic applications easy enough to teach in school.

It features a simple graphical editor that can be used with a mouse and keyboard or Tablet PC to program robots to perform simple tasks, and control them using a PC or Windows Mobile-based smartphone.

The software giant's Cambridge researchers also showed off mobile hotspot technology that helps provide better high-speed connectivity by dynamically combining the power from multiple wireless devices.

Laptop PCs, mobile phones and personal digital assistants often support a number of wireless standards such as Wi-Fi and GPRS, but the bandwidth of individual devices can be insufficient to provide quality high-speed access, explained researchers.

They showed how an ad hoc combination of the resources of multiple devices (such as a conference room full of mobile phones) can provide better access to data in remote locations.

Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, said in a statement: "Our work with academic and corporate partners in Europe has already led to some incredible breakthroughs, and the work we're highlighting here today is only a glimpse of what we'll be able to deliver together in the coming years."

Other innovations on display included advanced network technologies that can automatically diagnose problems, communicate status graphically and help improve connectivity for home and small office users and large enterprises, and a tamper-resistant biometric identification card system.

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