The Windows 7 Sensor and Location API

There are some very intriguing new API’s in Windows 7 such as Touch, Jump Lists, Taskbar and the subject of this article, Sensors and Location.

Windows 7 includes native support for sensors, devices that measure physical phenomena such as ambient light, temperature, position, speed or location. Today, software developers can create solutions that leverage sensors but a lack of standardization makes programming an arduous task. After a sensor-based program is completed, it is forever dependent on a particular type of hardware. By making sensor development easier, we can expect a lot more applications will want to take advantage of the real-time data from the physical word to enhance the usability and functionally of their applications.

The Windows Sensor and Location platform provides a standard way for device manufacturers to expose sensor devices to software developers and consumers, while providing developers with a standardized application programming interface (API) for working with sensors and sensor data. Below is the architecture showing how device drivers are abstracted by the Sensor API giving developers one way to interact with all sensor devices.

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fig. Sensor and Location Architecture

The Sensor API standardizes:

  • Sensor categories, types, and properties.
  • Data formats for standard sensor types.
  • COM interfaces for working with sensors and collections of sensors.
  • Event mechanisms for asynchronously receiving sensor data.

In the same way that we have benefited from the abstraction of data access combined with a plug and play driver model, sensors and location based solutions will become easier to develop and more prevalent in our everyday solutions.

The following pages will help you get started using the Sensor and Location API:

  1. Getting Started
  2. The Sensor and Location API Details
  3. A Sample Application

Additional resources: