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  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense at WPC 2012


    The Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense is at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2012 in Toronto. Development partners are demonstrating their applications and showing off the amazing experiences they’ve created for the SUR40. This is a great opportunity to get hands-on with the new Samsung SUR40 device. Visit the team and connect with partners at the Kinect & Microsoft PixelSense booth CORE-KS.

    The annual Worldwide Partner Conference highlights key product milestones and opportunities for partners contributing to the beginning of a new era for the company. The four-day event celebrates the accomplishments of the company’s more than 640,000 global partners and gives a preview of what will be the most exciting product releases for Microsoft in the coming year.

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Garage: Photos App sample and controls


    The Garage is back to share the Photos App -- a sample application with reusable sample controls for use with the Microsoft Surface 2.0 Software Development Kit (SDK), It's more goodness for the Microsoft PixelSense community. This seemingly straightforward application packs some important design and engineering innovations that make it easy for people to walk right up to a Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense, insert USB removable media, and immediately share their photos with friends, colleagues and customers. This sample application can be readily deployed and completely customized with the included code sample and reusable controls -- it is provided as-is, and is not supported. Click here to download Photos App by Garage.

    Image: Photos App by Garage

    Included Photos App sample controls

    This sample application includes several reusable sample controlsthat developers can use to make their own applications even better:

    • Dockable ScatterView | Flick content to the side of the screen for later, have it intelligently organize itself
    • Just-in-time Chrome | Touch a piece of content to display information about it, let the text fade away when done
    • Background file copy | Move files from removable media to the device
    • Background removable media monitoring | Let your app know when new content is available
    • Background loading of pictures into ScatterViews | Take content from removable media and import into Microsoft Surface ScatterView content containers

    Installing Photos App

    This sample applications does not come with its own installer.Copy the .zip file contents to a folder that all users will have access to (e.g.: C:\SurfaceApps\). Right-click on the PhotosApp\Release\PhotosApp.xml file and Create Shortcut. Copy that shortcut file to C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Surface\Programs\ and then use the Surface Configuration Utility to add the application to Launcher.

    Using removable USB media with Photos App

    The Photos App has the ability to display photos from an external USB storage device. All you have to do is create a directory on the USB drive called \PhotosApp\Content\ and put your photos in there. Launch the Photos Apps and insert the removable USB drive into your Samsung SUR40. The photos will replace the existing contents of the Photos Apps directory and will persist until another removable USB device with new content is inserted and copied over. If you want to disable the ability to copy photos from removable media change the content in the application directory on the hard drive \PhotosApp\Content\ to read-only. This will prevent the file system from overwriting the original files with new pictures and effectively block users from sharing their photos on the device.

    About Garage

    Garage is a community of Microsoft employees that are passionate about Microsoft PixelSense, Samsung SUR40, computer vision, and natural user interface (NUI) technologies. Last year TechCrunch reporter Devin Coldewey visited the Surface Garage wrote a great article that gives a little more background on the group: "Microsoft’s Surface Garage: A Cross-Department Development Team, With Pizza And Beer." One of the group's goals is to contribute helpful code samples and demos to the greater PixelSense development community. This work is done by enthusiastic employees in their off-hours. The nature of these projects creates code which is outside the scope of a standard product release; but, as samples they can be valuable to the community.


    The Garage team would appreciate feedback on the usefulness of this sample application and controls for developers. Feedback will help frame future contributions from Garage. Options include releasing more samples in an agile format similar to this one, which puts more work on the developer to figure out how to put things together. Or, they can do a slower contribution cadence with more polished source code, but fewer posts. Since the Surface Garage is really looking to help the PixelSense development community, they'd really like to know what you think. Please post your thoughts and comments below.

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Johanna Rowe: Designing a Microsoft Surface 2.0 application


    Our thanks and appreciation to Johanna Rowe, designer and Surface MVP, for sharing the following guest blog in French and English:

    Over the last few years developers have started working with professionals from several new fields of activity. These include ergonomists, graphics professionals and much more recently, "design" specialists, coming from industrial environments.

    Such design professionals are often specialists in human interactions and accordingly always place user experience at the top of the list of system requirements. This is easily understandable because, from the very outset of their educational courses, designers are trained to treat end-user experience as the most important factor of any new project.

    Their creative and artistic spirits, coupled with a solid technical knowledge and an understanding of user needs and desires, make such designers invaluable, not only during the creative phase of a project but in all stages of the product development.

    In successful industrial companies, end-user requirements, brand studies, content pertinence, navigation and basic functions, are always treated as highly critical elements. This philosophy is however relatively new to the field of computing and specifically for innovative user interfaces. Let us thus apply this philosophy to the following topic: Designing a Microsoft Surface 2.0 application.

    We need to keep in mind four specific points when dealing with this application:

    The first point is User Experience. A satisfying user experience is a very strong emotional event and will drive the customer to communicate favorably about the company, "I was really impressed with the new touchscreen application...” A successful user experience can often be summarized by a unexpectedly easy completion of the required action, or surprisingly rapid access to information needed.

    The second point is the total respect of the Brand Image. When working on a new application for an industrial company or an association etc, it is of prime importance to respect the fundamental "image" and main corporate values. Key image marker notions "such as, "green," "young," "technical mastery," etc., must be carefully taken into account and should be reflected in the look and feel of the application.

    The third point is the Microsoft Surface Design Principles. These principles share a commonality with the “Metro” design found in other Microsoft products, from the Xbox 360 dashboard to Windows Phone and Zune to future Windows 8 tablets. Each product has a specific way of using "metro." For the Microsoft Surface 2.0 interfaces this does not imply using rectangles, squares and palettes of the same color, but simply to using the overall philosophy. There are five Surface design principles: simple, organized, authentically digital, content oriented and lively. This is the basis of Surface application design and should be taken into account the interests of the end-user.

    The fourth point is the application of a dedicated design phase. At the very outset of the project, this takes account of all the possible touch interactions, the user gestures, the components, the content and the intended physical aspect. All this should be clearly and visually transcribed in the form of an exhaustive application storyboard. A well prepared and highly visual storyboard, reduces the chance of misunderstanding between project participants. It allows for rapid and reliable validation by the technical managers at the very beginning of the project and above all, before the development phase and graphics design phase.

    These four points are clearly critical to project success and must necessarily be taken into account very early in the project as they will have a critical impact on the overall application. However, it is clearly interesting to ask how this process takes place in the minds of designers. This line of thought is useful to pursue, because I frequently meet people who are very unhappy with the idea of not being able to explain logically and scientifically what a designer does, which enables them to produce innovative ideas. They want to understand how the designers brain functions to enable them to reproduce the process...

    Well, here is one concrete example of how my industrial designer brain managed to generate ideas concerning interactions.

    I challenge any one, to find a way of artificially triggering a similar chain reaction. A few days ago I was watching the cartoon film version of Snow White (in French). I was prompted to do this after a particularly wearing day, in order to find peace and beauty. To my surprise, after several desperately uncreative days, innovative ideas suddenly started to spring to life as I lay in bed, between waking and sleep. The simple innocence and magic of this film reminded me of the sparkling eyes of users, the first time they touched the Microsoft Surface 1.0.

    The reaction of fascination and pleasant surprise, created by the beauty of this innocent and touching film, seemed thus to me, to be identical to that of people to whom I presented the Surface a few years ago. Thanks to Snow White, a new train of thought was triggered and instead of going to sleep, I got up and started sketching a series of new interaction ideas. Here are a few of the sketches from this "Snow White" Phase...

    The design of Surface applications is above all about exchanging with end users and customers, about sketching, about cutting and pasting, about finding inspiration in everyday objects, materials, images and even in other interfaces.

    It is thus armed simply with a pair of scissors a few sheets of paper and some sharpened pencils that some beautiful Surface applications are born, from the minds of Interactions Designers.

    Many thanks to Franck Roth for the magnificent illustration which cost him a few weekends of his spare time.

    Johanna Rowe
    Surface MVP
    Twitter : @johanna_rowe
    Facebook page : Design in progress

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