January, 2011 - Microsoft PixelSense Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
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  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Controlling the AR Drone with Surface


    Winwise has created an entertaining control mechanism for the Parrot AR Drone using Microsoft Surface. The drone is usually controlled using a mobile device. It has an SDK that allows the controls to be adapted to whatever you might dream up. In this case, Surface MVP Nicolas Calvi dreamed big with Surface 1.0 in creating the sensation of a cockpit on the large screen and improved stability. Imagine what it will be like on the new Microsoft Surface!

    “We wanted to build an application which enables the possibility of flying the Parrot AR DRONE from Microsoft Surface. In order to do that, we downloaded the Parrot SDK, tuned the drone Win32 API, developed a.NET managed layer for it and realized the application in WPF. To bring the feeling of flying the drone from a cockpit, we decided to let a graphist and interactive designer create and realize the interface. Winwise is known for its expertise on Microsoft Technologies. We dedicate time from our consultants on internal and R&D projects in order to emphasize our company spirit.”

    [Video: Flying AR DRONE with Microsoft Surface - Winwise]

    Other than the larger viewscreen and more control space, why control the drone with Surface? Couldn’t I scare my office-mates just as well with mobile device? If your goal is to control a single drone from close proximity, a mobile device may be better. If your goal is to control groups of robots and have the ability to seize control of an individual drone, then this method opens up amazing possibilities from a distant command and control center. Take, for example, Mark Micire’s project at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Robotics Lab..

    [Video: Multi-Robot Command and Control]

    Nicolas and Mark aren’t the only ones working on robot/drone control using Microsoft Surface. Surface MVP Bart Roozendaal has submitted a session for MIX11 on this very topic. “How NUI can help you perform complex tasks, like flying a helicopter.” View the session brief and vote for it if you want to see more at MIX in April.

    - Eric (follow Surface on Twitter and Facebook)

    P.S. See yesterday's post on Amnesia Razorfish's mobile mashup.

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Amnesia Razorfish’s mobile mashup with Surface and more


    The team from Amnesia Razorfish in Australia have brought some cool new device interaction to Microsoft Surface. Amnesia Connect allows “instant and seamless sharing and transfer of any content such as photos, music or embedded apps between multiple handheld devices using a Microsoft Surface table using a single gesture.” It’s what we call a “lens” and it’s very cool. Their example is very smooth and they’re even doing this without a tag on the device. You can learn about this app in their press release on the Amnesia blog and the video below. Brilliant work Amnesia.

    [Video: Amnesia Connect]

    Original Microsoft Surface Device Vision
    Surface has a long history of device interaction. While our primary focus is on multi-user computing on a shared device, the portability of mobile devices provides sharing of content in natural ways. Device interaction was first shown in our vision video created back in 2007.

    [Video: Microsoft Surface the Possibilities]

    Bluetooth Connect
    The handshaking of devices isn’t often shown in videos, but is a necessary component of device interaction via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We’ve provided some code samples for those interested, Mobile Connect and then Bluetooth Connect. If you’re looking for a complete application solution, there is a similar implementation as part of the nsquared Business Pack. Here’s a video of how the Microsoft Bluetooth Connect code sample works.

    [Video: Bluetooth Connect for Microsoft Surface]

    The NEW Microsoft Surface Experience
    As I’ve said, interaction with mobile devices is a natural part of collaboration. In our most recent video for the new Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, we showed the “take it with you” approach using Microsoft Tag. (Selected portion of the clip below.) The device displays the Tag, and the phone scans the tag using the software available for most mobile devices. That takes your phone’s browser to a web location where you can find your content. It’s employed on the 1.0 platform today, notably our Live Stream code sample.

    [Video: The Microsoft Surface 2.0 Experience]

    There are several examples of device integration and lenses on Surface. We’ve seen a bit of tag used in retail scenarios. Some other innovative experiences include..

    The Stimulant X-Ray mashup
    Two years ago, we featured a unique mashup by Stimulant on the blog.  The app was a mobile lens called X-Ray and used tagged devices to sync the device to Surface in order to show a different layer within an image.

    [Video: Stimulant: XRay]

    The Cynergy magazine kiosk concept
    Another concept around take-it-with-you was created by Cynergy Systems for last year’s SXSW. In this case, you might be at a airport and want to grab a magazine to go for your mobile device. Surface contains the library of content to browse and your mobile device is your purchasing agent.

    [Video: eReader Demo on the Floor of SXSWi]

    Magnification Lens
    I think it’s also worth mentioning that using Surface and “lens” interaction doesn’t have to require a complex hardware device. Two years ago, InfoStrat showed a demo of their magnification ring (also at 2:00 in this app) used to view more detailed information for individuals in a multi-user scenario. It is essentially a plastic ring with Surface visual tag that allows Surface to understand position and orientation of the ring. No batteries required. :) The ring acts as the lens, and rotating the lens zooms the image inside the lens. There’s a video of the original concept below. This is also now a component of the software they created for the Smithsonian Institution, previously featured on the blog and also shown below.

    [Video: Microsoft Surface Magnify Demo]

    [Video: Microsoft Surface at the Smithsonian]

    Another magnification lens is shown in the Garibaldi Panorama by Brown University, where two objects are used to define the size of the magnification ring and rotating one of the objects controls the zoom.

    I wasn’t able to cover all the relevant applications here. If you have some additional examples of device or lens integration on Surface you’d like to share, please post them in the comments.

    - Eric (follow Surface on Twitter and Facebook)

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Microsoft and Samsung Unveil the Next Generation of Surface


    At CES, Microsoft and Samsung unveiled the next generation of the Microsoft Surface experience. If you’ve been following the coverage, you will have heard about PixelSense technology, which gives LCD panels the power to see without the use of cameras. This brings to life the unique Surface experience making it possible for people to share, collaborate and explore together on this large, thin display that recognizes fingers, hands and other objects placed on the screen.

    I’m really excited to tell you that the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface will be available to businesses in 23 countries later this year. At announce, we have several companies who have announced they will deploy the product. Dassault Aviation, Fujifilm Corp., Red Bull GmbH, Royal Bank of Canada and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

    To get the full scoop, including information on availability and pricing, please see the press release below.


    - Eric (follow Surface on Twitter and Facebook)

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January, 2011