Microsoft unveiled its HoloLens glasses this week. Microsoft unveiled its HoloLens glasses this week. Microsoft unveiled its HoloLens glasses this week which were partly developed at the company's Israel R&D center. (Photo: Stephen Lam / Getty Images)

What country is becoming Microsoft's innovation lab?

Computer giant will also host a conference celebrating creativity and technology there next week.

Microsoft is wrapping up its annual developers conference in San Francisco, where it unveiled an updated version of Windows and the new name for its web browser. (Bye, Explorer! Hello, Edge!) The tech giant also gave an eye-popping demonstration of its futuristic HoloLens virtual reality goggles.

In fact, Israel is the country Microsoft is turning to for new ideas. Their HoloLens technology was partly developed at Microsoft's R&D center in Israel, home to hundreds of engineers in the coastal city of Haifa. At the heart of the HoloLens is an immersive experience that could revolutionize the way we create, educate, work and interact with others. To get the idea, imagine 3D holograms popping up in front of you at every turn. Take a look at this video to see some of the myriad ways the technology could impact your life:

This is just the latest in a string of developments fortifying Microsoft's ties to Israel. In the past six months alone, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has acquired three Israeli startups. Aorato, a cloud-based storage technology, joined the Microsoft family in November, and Equivio, which teaches computers to learn on their own, joined in December. And most recently, it purchased N-trig, which makes digital pens to be used with tablets and computer screens. Previously in 2009, Microsoft purchased 3DV Systems, a company that specializes in motion-detection cameras.

Microsoft's R&D center in Israel is home to hundreds of engineers.Microsoft's R&D center in Israel is home to hundreds of engineers. (Photo: Courtesy Microsoft)

Starting Tuesday, Microsoft will host its seventh annual Think Next innovation conference in Tel Aviv, where 1,500 attendees will gather to discuss this year's theme of creativity in technology. The convention will also host a "Demo Fair" where 35 startups will get to show off their products.

Zack Miller is a partner at OurCrowd, an online platform that enables people from around the world to invest in Israeli startups. "It's not surprising to see Microsoft make these acquisitions in Israel," he tells From The Grapevine. "Bill Gates famously said that the innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of tech. Microsoft is using Israel as a lab of innovation, just like Apple and Google are doing."


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