Microsoft Research is the 1,000-strong arm of the company that deals with The Future. Its job is, essentially, to focus more on what comes next than what comes now.
The facility, which has been in operation for over 25 years, was created by Bill Gates to help create “a new Golden Age of technological advancement,” according to Peter Lee, Microsoft Research’s corporate vice president.
Some Microsoft Research projects are purely academic, looking to advance science rather than the company’s bottom line. Others, such as Kinect, are made into real-life products that consumers will use.
Microsoft’s Researchers have set out 16 predictions for 2016. Here they are:
Chris Bishop, the lead researcher in Cambridge, predicted that 2016 would see the introduction of new silicon architectures that are used in processors, making them faster and more efficient.
Bishop also predicted that 2016 would see the introduction of new depth camera technology on smartphones, possibly like the technology featured in Lytro cameras that allows for re-focusing.
Doug Burger, the head of hardware, devices, and experiences at Microsoft Research predicted that cloud computing architecture will become faster and more powerful in 2016, allowing for better handling of big data loads, bioinformatics, and more.
Burger also predicts that reconfigurable computers will go mainstream in the data centre world.
Bill Buxton, a principle researcher for Microsoft, predicts that annotation, note taking, and drawing will go mainstream on tablets. The Microsoft Surface and iPad Pro both come with styluses that can be used for drawing.
Buxton also predicts that the focus of the consumer technology industry will move towards an enhanced consumer experiences.
Lili Cheng, an engineer and general manager at Microsoft Research, predicts that virtual assistants -- such as Siri or Cortana -- will become more useful and personable, adding more of a personality to the services.
Cheng also predicts that jobs, especially for those who are young, will increasingly become virtual.
Kate Crawford, a principle researcher for Microsoft, predicts that 2016 will see more awareness growing around the ethics behind collecting data of a large scale. The Edward Snowden leaks show the potential downsides that collecting a large quantity of data can present.
Crawford also predicts that the software behind data systems will start to affect health care, housing, and employment decisions.
Li Deng, a partner research manager for Microsoft, predicts that computers will get better at understand us by using big data and deep learning to create a full picture of what is being said.
Deng also predicts that, thanks to investment from big businesses, deep learning will grow beyond identifying text, images, and so on.
Jasmin Fisher, a senior researcher for Microsoft in Cambridge, predicts that health technology will become interdisciplinary, resulting in better technology that extends and improves lives.
Fisher goes on to predict that cloud platforms, such as Microsoft's Azure, will be used to transform and improve the lives of patients.
Hsiao-Wuen Hon, the corporate vice president for Microsoft Research in Asia, predicts that artificial intelligence is going to take off in China. Hon predicts that there will be a place for a human within the process, making the experience more personable.
Hon also predicts that video distribution will move from TV to the web. The Olympics, for example, will be watched by more online than on TV.
Eric Horvitz, a managing director at Microsoft Research, predicts that 2016 will see computers get better at having conversations rather than responding, or understanding, simple queries and responses.
Horvitz also predicts that personal assistants will start to actually understand us, including what we like or dislike.
Lucas Joppa, a conservation scientist at Microsoft Research, predicts that technology combined with sensors will make it easier to monitor the world around us, giving insights that had never previously been seen.
Joppa also predicts that technology will help humanity prevent the 6th mass extinction and transform the way we monitor the Earth.
Brian LaMacchia, the director of security and cryptography research at Microsoft, predicts that 2016 will see the introduction of a system that cannot be cracked by a quantum computer. Securing a system against such as machine would be a major break through.
LaMacchia also predicts that quantum computing will become more high profile, alerting people to the threat it poses to everyday security procedures.
Preston McAfee, the chief economist at Microsoft Research, predicts that economics will work out whether the economic recovery is working or not. McAfee posits that economists need to work out whether low-productivity increases are the new normal or a measurement area.
McAfee also predicts that Silicon Valley will recognise the value of Uber in its marketplace.
Sriram Rajamani, the assistant managing director for Microsoft Research India, predicts that security experts will work out how to protect a certain aspect of a computer even when other parts are compromised, potentially cutting down on the amount of information a hacker can access.
Rajamani also predicts that hardware and software will become more entwined when it comes to security.
Krysta Svore, a senior researcher for Microsoft, predicts that quantum computing will take big leaps forward in 2016.
Svore also predicts that, as quantum computing becomes more and more important, people will start learning quantum mechanics.
Chandu Thekkath, the managing director of Microsoft Research India, predicts that low-cost electronics will make the internet more widespread in India.
Thekkath also predicts that rural areas of India will come online, adding hundreds of millions more internet users.
Jeannette Wing, the corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, predicts that health technology, such as Apple's HealthKit, will enable people to be more aware about how they are. This will lead to a higher rate of health.
Wing also predicts that a hot topic of the 2016 Presidential race will be cyber security and mass data collection of civilians.