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(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft is aiming to pioneer disruptive technological advances with a new department it calls Special Projects. And it's hired an ex-Darpa head to make sure everything is cutting edge.

Google X does similar things with the goal of achieving its "moonshots" like self-driving cars. In an apparent answer to this Microsoft's Research department has hired former deputy director of the information innovation office at Darpa, Norman Whitaker.

Earlier today the Microsoft Research department released details on its new keyboard that can detect gestures and could kill off the mouse – pretty disruptive then. But it's hardly on the self-driving car level. That is likely where Whitaker will come in to really shake things up. Darpa is a robot specialist which suggests Microsoft may be going down that route too.

READ: Microsoft gesture control 'Type-Hover-Swipe' keyboard could be the death of the mouse

Previously the Microsoft Research group was concerned with advancing "the state of the art in computing through a combination of basic and applied research", according to the Microsoft Careers site. The new Special Projects groups will focus on "disruptive next-generation technologies."

According to a recent job posting specific areas that will be worked on include systems, networking, distributed computing, UX design, devices, cloud, mobility, machine learning/artificial intelligence, big data and datacenter technologies.

Microsoft powered robots could be in that mix – at least if they try to enslave us we need only wait for a blue-screen to take them out.

READ: Google X explained: What's really going on at Google's secret lab?

Writing by Luke Edwards. Originally published on 30 April 2014.