FXPAL turns 15


Today is FXPAL’s 15th anniversary. While we’re young by the standards of research labs (IBM Watson was founded in 1945, (Xerox) PARC in 1970,  IBM Almaden in 1986, and MSR in 1991), we’ve managed to accumulate a pretty good record for our size. With an annual staff of 20-25 PhD-level researchers and a bunch of summer interns, we’ve consistently produced about 30 research publications a year on a variety of research topics ranging from multimedia to HCI to information retrieval. While no single post can do justice to the great work of so many people, here are some highlights.


One of the persistent themes of FXPAL research, video projects have included such projects as MBase (a video archive and streaming service), Hyper-Hitchcock (a system for editing hyper-linked video), Video Manga (automatically-constructed video summaries), FlyCam and FlyAbout (interactive spatially-indexed panoramic video), DOTS (a video surveillance project), and many others.

Pen-based computing

We’ve explored a range of pen-based applications, including Dynomite (an ink-indexed audio-recording note-taking application), NoteLook (note-taking with ink and video), XLibris (annotation for active reading), and NotePals (group-based note-taking on PDAs).

Image processing

We built a  number of applications for processing photographs: The FXPAL Photo Application (a rich media organization tool), Stained Glass Collage (a publicly-available photo collaging tool), and MediaGlow (a photo clustering tool).

Information retrieval

We’ve built experimental information retrieval systems, including PALBar (a Corporate Memory recommendation system),  PALSUMM (an NLP document summarization system by some of the folks that went to start PowerSet), TRECVID (our participation in the TREC Video Retrieval tracks), and Cerchiamo, our collaborative exploratory search system.

Mobile computing

We have created a range of mobile applications, including QuietCalls (how to talk on a phone without making noise!), M-Links and PIPs / AnySpot (ubiquitous and mobile computing), Seamless Documents (a variety of techniques to support viewing documents and document collections on large and small displays),  and PaperUI (integrating mobile devices with paper documents).

Workplace and meeting support

We have built and deployed several systems for helping us manage our meetings and related work. These include ePic (an early multi-screen presentation management system), FlySpec (system for video capture and camera control using a combination of panoramic and robotically controlled cameras), ProjectorBox (a system for capturing, indexing, and retrieving presentations), DICE (a meeting room control system), and ReBoard (a system for capturing, retrieving and reusing whiteboard images).

Remote collaboration

Several projects have focused on remote collaboration and information sharing, including Anchored Conversations (chat windows embedded in documents), VideoBot (robotic avatars for desktop teleconferencing), iLight (an aligned camera and video projector  that allows a user to draw on a video image of a real-world scene using digital ink), and Plasma poster (Large screen digital community poster boards).

Other exploratory work

We’ve also done some work in quantum computing, bio-informatics, and robotics. A link to the relevant publications is found on the explorations page.

Of course these are just highlights; there was a lot more work done than can be enumerated easily on a single blog post. We have had a lot of exciting work here over the past 15 years, and I am looking forward to more innovation to come.

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