MIX11The MIX11 Open Call voting closes at Midnight PST on February 4th. If you are interested in attending Surface-related sessions at MIX, make sure you vote them up. You can vote for 10 of your favorite sessions. Below are some of the sessions I picked from the list that included Microsoft Surface, leading with our Surface MVPs..

The Microsoft Surface MVPs present: Natural User Interfaces, Today and Tomorrow; an interactive discussion and demonstration
Joshua Blake; Neil Roodyn; Dennis Vroegop; Rick Barraza; Bart Roozendaal; Josh Santangelo; Nicolas Calvi
The Natural User Interface (NUI) is a hot topic that generates a lot of excitement, but there are only a handful of companies doing real innovation with NUIs and most of the practical experience in the NUI style of design and development is limited to a small number of experts. The Microsoft Surface MVPs are a subset of these experts that have extensive real-world experience with Microsoft Surface and other NUI devices.This session is a panel featuring the Microsoft Surface MVPs and an unfiltered discussion with each other and the audience about the state of the art in NUI design and development. We will share our experiences and ideas, discuss what we think NUI will look like in the near future, and back up our statements with cutting-edge demonstrations prepared by the panelists involving combinations of Microsoft Surface 2.0, Kinect, and Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft Surface at the Smithsonian – 30 seconds to Magic
Josh Wall
How do you design a Microsoft Surface application that creates a magical experience in less than thirty seconds, uses real-world physical objects, and is both fun and educational for kids? That is quite a task, but oh yeah – you need to build seven of these magical applications that are distinct yet connected by a common theme. This was the challenge presented to InfoStrat, a Surface Strategic Partner in Washington DC, by the Smithsonian Institution. This session will explore the design and development process that went into building the innovative physical object interactions for a suite of Microsoft Surface applications used in the “Wonder of Light: Touch and Learn!” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Josh Wall, director of the InfoStrat Advanced Technology Group, will demonstrate and analyze five different types of physical object interactions that take advantage of the unique vision system in Microsoft Surface. He will also discuss lessons learned from the experience, including designing Surface applications for kids, when to use a linear or non-linear task path, and how to apply Natural User Interface (NUI) concepts to interactive museum exhibits.

Microsoft Surface v2 – designing for the new form factor
Josh Santangelo
Surface v2 ushers in a new era of surface computing, with 1080p resolution, a larger screen, and a significantly more compact form factor. With great power comes great responsibility, however. This talk will dive deep into the implications of these improvements, and explain how both designers and developers need to change the way they think about this unique device. From interaction design to code samples to performance optimization, we’ll look at two real-world apps, Bing for Microsoft Surface and Social Stream for Microsoft Surface, and discuss updated best practices for NUI design and development on the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface.

How to build a great Microsoft Surface application
Neil Roodyn
Microsoft Surface represents a new category in computing. Vision based screens enable unique interactions and they present fantastic opportunities for innovative software to be created. In this session you will learn what makes Microsoft Surface unique and how you can use that to build great software for Microsoft Surface. This session will cover the user interfaces and concepts that you need to apply in order to take advantage of the technology in MicrosoftSurface. With the imminent release of Microsoft Surface 2.0 this session will cover everything you need to build really amazing experiences for MicrosoftSurface.The company Dr.Neil works for has more applications certified for Microsoft surface than any other company in the world. This session will provide some insight into how they conjure up the magic that enables them to repeatedly build awesome Surface experiences.

And then there are a number of sessions that step beyond Surface into the broader Natural User Interface (NUI) tech sphere..

How NUI can help to perform complex tasks, like flying a helicopter
Bart Roozendaal
We are only seeing the beginning of applications of NUI in real life. However, current technology enables us to experiment with NUI already, even at low costs. Devices like Microsoft Kinect, Microsoft Surface are optimized to support NUI and SDKs and drivers that come with the devices are making it much easier to implement NUIs than before.Using a demo application on Microsoft Surface using Microsoft Kinect I will show how NUI can help to perform complex tasks like flying a remote controlled helicopter, in this case a Parrot Drone. I will give some demonstrations on how to fly the helicopter using gestures on a Microsoft Surface and gestures on Microsoft Kinect. I will also show the programming code on how to interpret the gestures and translate those to commands to the helicopter.This is a session with a high fun factor and will be interactive and informal. The source for the application will be made available after the session.

Building Really Social Software
Neil Roodyn
Technology can be both an inhibitor and an enabler of social engagement. This session presents a discussion on how technology can be used to enrich the dialogue between users. When you consider many forms of computing today you think of users staring into a screen and yet the most successful systems, such as twitter and Facebook, are really about how people converse with each other. In the last few years new categories of technology, such as Microsoft Surface and Kinect, have emerged that truly bring people together. This session will discuss the way these new technologies (and others) will change the way we can use technology to enhance human interactions.

Wave, Touch, Pen, Speech, Mouse and Keyboard
Neil Roodyn
In the last decade we have seen a variety of new interfaces popularized. With Microsoft Kinect you are the controller. There are screens that can see like Microsoft Surface. We have touch screens that can feel you and pen interfaces that provide rich digital inking capabilities. Speech technology to control an computer has existed for over a decade now. Yet we still are using the mouse and keyboard almost daily.In this session you will explore how the different input technologies can be applied to different categories of engagement. You will learn why the mouse and keyboard is here to stay and when you should take advantage of the other input technologies. This session will also provide you with some insight into how you can apply combinations of input to enhance your applications further.

Understanding the Metro design language – from Zune to mobile to Microsoft Surface and beyond
Nathan Moody
The Metro design language has made a huge splash in the device space, but it’s not just for mobile any more. Microsoft Surface v2 has gone Metro, and this shift requires a thoughtful reconsideration of how to apply Metro thinking in a large-format NUI context. This talk will explore the tenets of Metro and how they translate, or don’t, to this unique form factor. It will also discuss how these design guidelines can be applied in other contexts, like the Web, to improve usability and create elegant, engaging experiences on all devices.

“Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, Multi-Touch and Natural User Interfaces”
Davide Zordan
“Natural User Interfaces are the evolution of traditional UIs involving new technologies like Multi-Touch. In this session we'll analyze the Touch support available in Silverlight and Windows Phone 7 for building Blend Behaviors in order to enable Multi-Touch Gestures and Manipulations.”

Don’t forget to vote!

- Eric (follow Surface on Twitter and Facebook)