January, 2008 - Microsoft PixelSense Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
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  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Surface Grand Piano


    Rob and Thomas think one cool use of Surface would a piano app.  I agree :)  Believe it or not, this concept is actually one of the first tech samples we shipped to partners in early drops of the Surface SDK.  We chose this because 1) it's a good example of leveraging multi-input, 2) from an development perspective, it's a good example of the benefits Surface gets from leveraging WPF, and 3) most of the work was already done for us.

    It turns out that the Expression Blend team shipped a Grand Piano sample with their tool to highlight the power of having developers & designers work closely together using tools built for their specific needs.  In that sample, each key on the Piano is simply a WPF Button control which is given a custom style which makes it look like a 3D piano key.  If you don't have Expression Blend installed, there's a Silverlight version of this that you can play with online.

    Grand Piano 

    So how did we Surface-enable this?  3 easy steps:

    • Replace <Window> in the XAML with <SurfaceWindow>
      • SurfaceWindow is a subclass of the WPF Window class which automatically does some initialization stuff that we require of all Surface apps (like making the window full-screen on the right display)
    • Replace <Button> in the XAML with <SurfaceButton>
      • SurfaceButton is a subclass of the WPF Button class which knows how to correctly respond to Surface input so you can press multiple buttons at once and use multiple fingers on each button.
    • Ask Celso on the Blend team to provide updated images for the piano keys
      • The ones shipped in the original version of this app have an optimization that assumes only one key will be pressed at a time.

    I don't have a video handy to show this in action (it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect), but will create one if people express interest in the comments on this post.

    Disclaimer: This was created purely as an SDK tech sample to help show partners how to leverage Blend and WPF with our SDK.  It's not something we consider to be a "complete" app (there are tons of ways it could/should be expanded - including ideas Thomas mentioned on his blog) and it's not something our Demo crew uses at events to tell the Surface story (they prefer things that better fit our v1 business model and leverage all the multi-user & object recognition aspects of Surface).

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Unmediated and Free @ CES '08


    According to the local Las Vegas weather channel, the Surface Booth @ CES reached "unseasonably high temperatures for January."  Could the fact that we had oodles of Surface newbies non-stop all three days have had anything to do with that? 

    I had the pleasure of demoing on Monday and Tuesday, and it was fantastic.  Most of our audience had never experienced Surface before, and it was amazing to enjoy all of the feedback. 

    One of the points that people kept hammering back to me was the power of un-mediated touch.  In plain English, literally being able to place our hands on a song, a photo, a customized snow board had a powerful emotional impact. 

    It struck me as a really key aspect of the boom in natural user interfaces today.  That ability to connect directly (not with a mousepad, remote control, etc.) with the content creates "mixed reality".  Very powerful stuff!


  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Our Last Day at CES


    So we’re in the home stretch at CES. Today is the last day!!! As draining as this show is, as crazy as the planning has been, as stressful as it was to watch BillG demo Surface (fingers crossed so tight that it performed well-IT DID!) in his last keynote…it has been totally worth it. It’s the biggest show for us this year, the most important in terms of broad awareness (and access to so many different media) and a great way to interact with other Surface enthusiasts.

    The response to Surface in the booth has just been overwhelming. People continue to be amazed by the technology and so excited by the benefits it brings and the problems it is going to solve.

    Yesterday the booth was so packed that onlookers were using ladders to see Surface and snap photos.

    Ladder at CES 

    Today the booth had a little less people in it (as many have headed home already) that gave us more time to spend 1:1 with individuals and really dedicate time to address their questions.  

    Booth on last day

    I close the Microsoft Theater this evening with a final demo of our product customization scenario and then it’s time to break down the booth.

    Thanks to everyone that stopped by to say HI and chat us up. We can’t wait to see you at other events in the coming months and we’re even more excited for you to actually use Surface this Spring in our commercial partner venues.

    See you all at next year’s CES.


    K Robert Warnick

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January, 2008