You may soon be able to carry your favourite movies and TV shows with you on a piece of glass. It may sound straight out of a sci-fi movie and somewhat impossible but Microsoft has partnered with Warner Bros. over this futuristic initiative called 'Project Silica' which absolutely makes it possible.
As a result of its collaboration with Warner Bros., folks over at Microsoft stored and retrieved the 1978's Superman movie on a piece of glass, which is roughly the size of a drink coaster (75 x 75 x 2 mm).
Using Project Silica technology, researchers successfully stored the 1978 'Superman' movie on glass — using femtosecond lasers to encode the data and machine learning to read it back: https://t.co/EEI3RH90R5 #MSIgnite— Microsoft Research (@MSFTResearch) November 4, 2019
This is how Microsoft defines Project Silica on its website: 'Project Silica is part of the broader Optics for the Cloud project, which explores the future of cloud infrastructure at the intersection of optics and computer science.'
In a nutshell, Project Silica is Microsoft's first of its kind media storage technology that integrates cloud.
The Project Silica is a collaboration with the University of Southampton Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). It was first featured in a Microsoft Ignite 2017 keynote on future storage technologies.
Microsoft used the hard silica glass to store the entire 'Superman' movie. Microsoft says the hard silica glass can withstand being boiled in hot water, baked in an oven, microwaved, flooded, scoured, demagnetised and other environmental threats.
Microsoft Azure is investing in it to develop storage technologies built specifically for cloud computing patterns.
“Storing the whole ‘Superman’ movie in glass and being able to read it out successfully is a major milestone,” said Mark Russinovich, Azure’s chief technology officer. “I’m not saying all of the questions have been fully answered, but it looks like we’re now in a phase where we’re working on refinement and experimentation, rather asking the question ‘can we do it?’”
Warner Bros. approached Microsoft to safeguard its vast asset library, including "Casablanca," 1940s radio shows, animated shorts, digitally shot theatrical films, television sitcoms, dailies from film sets.
“That had always been our beacon of hope for what we believed would be possible one day, so when we learned that Microsoft had developed this glass-based technology, we wanted to prove it out,” said Warner Bros. Chief Technology Officer Vicky Colf.