The Microsoft Bing team is doing more than building a search engine that competes head-to-head with Google.
Part of the team, as I’ve blogged previously, also built some of the first Microsoft-branded consumer apps for Windows 8.
But it turns out there’s another team inside the Bing organization that is working on Windows 8 apps, too. There’s an Augmented Reality (AR) team inside Bing that is building both an AR framework and AR applications that will ship on Windows 8 tablets and other unspecified devices.
In keeping with Microsoft’s new charter as a devices and services company, the so-called “Bing Information Platform team” is in the midst of developing “next-generation of intelligent cloud services for developers on all screen sizes,” according to a couple of job openings posted on Microsoft’s site.
This AR-focused Bing team is working on everything from camera tracking, to visual and audio recognition, to optical character recognition and translation and vision-based natural-user interfaces. The team already has made available some AR deliverables, including the Bing translation app, augmented-reality-enriched Bing Maps, and the Bing Vision and Bing Audio technologies in Windows Phone.
But the Bing AR team — which is staffing up further — also is working on an AR software development kit (SDK) for third-party developers interested in buildng AR apps; Microsoft-developed and -branded AR apps and games using this SDK; and a Windows Azure-based cloud framework for supporting both the Microsoft- and third-party AR apps.
The AR focus inside Bing shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given that Microsoft moved many of those working on its defunct Live Labs team into Bing a couple of years back. The Bing unit also is home to Microsoft’s TellMe and other speech-centric products.
It will be interesting to see what kind of AR apps for Windows 8 the Bing Information Platform team builds out. Will any of these apps be optimized for the AR glasses — codenamed Fortaleza, and targeted for delivery in 2014 according to a Microsoft futures deck that leaked earlier this year — upon which Microsoft’s Xbox team is believed to be working?