Microsoft is synonymous with innovation and quality, and its campus in Redmond, Washington is the physical manifestation of those standards. HYPEBEAST was invited for a tour of the headquarters, which included a glimpse of the innovation and testing labs, to celebrate the release of the all-new Surface Laptop Go 2.
The campus is tucked away in a tree-lined area outside the capital, Seattle. It has been in operation since 1986 and has since expanded to include new restaurants, gift shops, workshops, and even a barbershop. According to the Redmond government website, more than 47,000 employees work throughout the 500-acre mixed-use campus.
Upon check-in at the visitor center reception, we began our tour of Treehouses, which are wooden structures built into the lush foliage of the Pacific Northwest and available for staff use. Next, we headed to The Garage, the company’s laboratory for experimentation, collaboration, and creativity, which hosts the world’s largest private hackathon. “The Garage is a gateway to culture penetration at Microsoft,” the company explains, noting that some of the company’s most compelling projects began in The Garage. The space was filled with prototyping tools like 3D printers, whiteboard walls, and even craft supplies, to encourage creative problem-solving.
Next, we come to the Human Factors Lab, a department dedicated to collecting data about the human body and mind to design its products for optimal use. Models of thumbs, ears, and wrists of various sizes were shown, along with EEG caps that monitor brain activity. The lab tests different lighting, sound, and typing conditions and sends that data to the product and design teams for further integration.
Then we made our way into the advanced prototyping space, which creates the first iterations of different technologies before they go into production and manufacturing. Keyboards, laptops, headphones, consoles and more are broken down across a large space, with employees consulting with each other about different materials, fabrics, colors and finishes to use in their unreleased products. Previous collaborations, including A Space Jam: A New Legacy The Nike sneaker and Xbox controller were also on display, showcasing the diversity of tasks accomplished in the Advanced Prototyping Lab.
While we were there, we entered the anechoic room, a futuristic space that has been certified as the quietest room in the world. There, the Microsoft team is able to characterize the acoustic characteristics of various devices, such as a keyboard or fan, to see how high their functionality can be during use. The chamber has apertures of foam and mesh metal to trap sound and, when the door is closed, creates an environment of absolute silence at -20dB.
We also explored the Inclusive Tech Lab, where the company works with the disability community to create products and modification tools to make its suite of technologies more accessible.
Finally, the team led us into a room where the new Surface Laptop Go 2 was on display. An update to the Surface Laptop Go released in 2020, the new lightweight device includes a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, along with a 12.4-inch PixelSense touchscreen display. In addition, the mobile device offers an HD camera, dual studio microphones for better video calling, and an elevated keyboard that rivals some of the other high-end laptops currently on the market.
The device weighs only 2.48 pounds and features a slot
11th generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor and all-day battery life. It comes in a range of stylish colors, including Ice Blue, Sandstone, Platinum and the all-new Sage green, and is now available starting at $599.
Overall, touring the Microsoft campus was a reminder of the tech company’s humble beginnings and its dedication to delivering human-first products. Its campus is elegant and homely, with accents of wood, glass, and greenery adorning the space filled with employees who consider it a home away from home.