Microsoft's ZenZui rings up a new mobile interface

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Microsoft Corp. has entered the mobile experience world with its introduction of ZenZui, an independent company focused on the user experience of Web content through the mobile phone.

ZenZui's key offering is Zooming User Interface, a technology patented by Microsoft, that lets users zoom in and out on tiles, in an attempt to deal with the concerns around screen limitation on the mobile phone. The tiles are sponsored by various brands. Companies onboard for the initial trial include Kayak.com, OTOlabs, Avenue A | Razorfish and Traffic.com Inc.

"Rather than building a mobile SMS campaign, which can be futile, marketers can build a tile which is much more personal and it can serve up new content in real time," said John San Giovanni, vice president of product services at Microsoft, Redmond, WA. "Pizzaria Uno created a tile that tells users what pizza matches their personality type."

Users selected and customize the tiles to reflect their interests. The tiles contain relevant content, interactive communications and fresh data served up by branded partners. The ZenZui software is a background with a high-frame rate that lets users zoom in and out of up to 36 individual tiles.

The seven and nine keys on the phone mobile phone are transactional with the ZenZui software. They directly connect customers to the ability to purchase.

The technology was initially developed at the Microsoft Research lab in Redmond, WA through the Microsoft IP Ventures. IP Ventures helps startups and growing companies speed their time to market through access to Microsoft innovations.

"We were thinking about how human beings organized things in a visual way and tried to come up with an interface that reflected that," Mr. San Giovanni said.

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