• Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    SUR40 Pixel Sense NUIverse Demo



    Jon Roskill and Steve Clayton join one of my colleague Dr Dave Brown at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2012 in Toronto for live a demonstration of the Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense featuring Dave's creation NUIverse.

    NUIverse is simply an amazing example of natural user interface and highlights the unique properties of the Samsung SUR40 and PixelSense technology that enables collaborative multitouch experience using objects. Developed by Dave over the past year NUIverse really does show off the power of Pixel Sense and the immersive nature of the SUR40 device for more indepth details of the development process concepts and Dave's patents for Users controls see http://drdave.co.uk/blog

    More information: Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense http://www.samsunglfd.com/solution/sur40.do

    I am looking forward to what the researchers and post docs at your institutions can do with these amazing devices.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    .NET Gadgeteer at Animation 12



    The University of ManchesterAnimation12 competition took place on Friday 13th of July 2012. The event have over 300 registered competitors.

    The University of Manchester School of Computer Science launched the UK Schools Computer Animation Competition in 2008 as part of Digital60 - celebrating the 60th Anniversary of "The Baby", the world's first stored-program computer, designed and built at The University of Manchester.

    The UK Schools Computer Animation Competition was launched to introduce UK schoolchildren to the fun side of basic programming whilst animating.

    The Competition is an annual event, to show schoolchildren that computers can be used creatively, and to stimulate them to learn about programming. The Competition's summer Awards Festival is held in Manchester, when winners receive their prizes, and over 300 guests attend talks and spend time in activity rooms exploring the fun side of computing.

    The Competition is open to all UK schoolchildren aged 7-19, and is completely free.

    “Youngsters love gadgets. So wouldn’t it be great if they could build their own, and at school? This is exactly what more than 80 of the competitors, ages 7 to 19, did  using .NET Gadgeteer during a hands on session at the event.


    The .NET Gadgeteer pilot project aligns with the UK’s commitment to prioritize computer science education in schools, as spelled out by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, in his speech at the BETT Show (see School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme) and will be a key part in the AQA GCSE Computer Science course starting in Sept 2012.

    We look forward to more schools, colleges, and universities utilizing .NET Gadgeteer to unleash their students’ creativity and enthusiasm in technology in the UK, and beyond. Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA, and Steve Hodges, Principal Hardware Engineer, Microsoft Research Cambridge


    We had over 80 students attend the pre booked Gadgeteer workshop sessions which took place throughout the day in all we ran 4 x 30 min sessions demonstrating hands on how to Build a Digital Camera with .NET Gadgeteer in 30 mins.


    Animation12 Web Site – Learn more about Animation12 and see details of the event.

    Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express.
    Build all manner of electronic gadgets quickly and easily with .NET Gadgeteer! LEARN HOW TO GET STARTED

    Reading Materials

    getting started

    Getting Started with .NET Gadgeteer by Simon Monk - This book explains .NET Gadgeteer to the novice and to using only the parts available in the Fez Spider Starter Kit. This is the most common starter kit if components for the Gadgeteer.

    Curricula Resources

    Teaching Material for .NET Gadgeteer in School  
    .NET Gadgeteer can be used in schools to help students make gadgets and learn C# programming along the way. These lesson plans give teachers all the material needed to run 8 1-hour sessions using .NET Gadgeteer, including session plans, student handouts and PowerPoint presentations.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Creating your first Windows 8 Metro Style Design Game



    After a great week at the Develop Conference, I wanted to share some great Windows 8 gaming guides and Tutorials from Dave Isbitski @davedev http://blogs.msdn.com/davedev

    The following Tutorials and resources contain the following technologies:

    • HTML5 Canvas
    • HTML5 Audio
    • XAML/C#
    • CSS3 Styling and Web Fonts
    • Implementing a Game Loop with JavaScript
    • Third Party Frameworks
    • Touch
    • Camera Access
    • Accelerometer
    • WinJS Controls

    Available Resources and Toolkits 

    Additional Resources for developing Windows 8 Metro Style Games

    Hands on Labs for XAML/C# using HyperV Windows 8 Virtual Machines, so you don't need to own a machine with Windows 8 Release Preview installed.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Training camp in a box



    The Windows 8 Camp in a Box is now available for download.  It includes all of the presentations, code samples, and hands on labs ideal for you getting your curricula up to date with Windows8. The content is available in both XAML/C# and HTML/JavaScript versions.  

    If you have been looking for an opportunity to develop curricula, work books, assessments or simply a walkthrough of a XAML/C# or HTML5/JS application step by step this it!  Full source code and instructions are provided in both html and docx formats. 


  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Microsoft Announces Imagine Cup 2012 Winners, Ukrainian Team Takes Top Place


    The winners of the 10th annual Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition, the winning Software Design project developed by Ukrainian Team quadSquad allows deaf individuals to communicate verbally using custom-designed sensory gloves and a smartphone application to translate sign language gestures into speech. Games focused on the environment from Thailand team TANG Thai and math education from U.S. team Drexel Dragons won the two Game Design competitions.

    The Imagine Cup 2012 competition winners were announced at the Imagine Cup World Festival and Awards Ceremony at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, in front of 106 student teams. The event was the culmination of a five-day celebration of technology, teamwork and innovation.

    More than 350 students from 75 countries travelled to Sydney after competing in local and online events, representing the best and brightest selected to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. Cash prizes totalling approximately $175,000 (U.S.) were awarded across eight competition categories.

    Imagine Cup is more than a competition; it’s a way for young entrepreneurs, innovators and developers to have an opportunity to develop an idea, create a product, set a clear business plan and even take their product to market. All Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finalist teams that competed in Sydney this year are eligible to apply for Imagine Cup Grants, a three-year, $3 million investment by Microsoft to help students turn their ideas into reality. More information on Imagine Cup Grants can be found at http://www.imaginecup.com in the coming weeks. In addition, through the Microsoft BizSpark program, Imagine Cup participants can launch startup businesses in their communities and across the Web. More information on BizSpark can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark.

    Software and Game Design Winners at Imagine Cup 2012

    Team quadSquad from the Ukraine took top honors in the Software Design Competition with its device, Enable Talk, which uses a pair of gloves equipped with 15 flex sensors and a microcontroller that continuously recognize sign language patterns, which are then transmitted via Bluetooth to a Windows Phone device that uses the Microsoft Speech API and Bing API to translate the signs into audio. With its victory, the team won $25,000 (U.S.).

    Team quadSquad was not the only competitor whose project was designed to enhance the quality of life for the disabled. Twenty-three percent of Imagine Cup projects this year were created to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities such as visual and hearing impairments and diseases that limit a human’s physical mobility.

    With millions of people around the world suffering from hearing and speech impairments, the team recognized the importance of developing a device that would allow individuals to be able to communicate more easily with others.

    In 2004, more than 275 million people globally had moderate to profound hearing impairment, 80 percent of them in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent data.

    “We were inspired to help our friends who are hearing- and speech-impaired to have the ability to communicate like everyone else,” said Maxim Osika, Team quadSquad. “The Imagine Cup is an amazing experience; we’re thrilled to be here learning from the experts around us.”

    Teams competed in two Game Design competitions — Game Design: Xbox/Windows and Game Design: Phone. The winning games addressed social issues including poverty, environment and sustainability, education, and community involvement. In Game Design: Xbox/Windows, TANG Thai, from Thailand, focused on protecting the environment and preventing deforestation. In Game Design: Phone, Drexel Dragons, from the United States, created an engaging game designed to teach math and problem solving in new ways to elementary school students. Each first-place team received $8,000 (U.S.).

    The following are the winners in the core Imagine Cup Competitions:

    1. Software Design. Students create innovative software, service solutions and real-world applications that unleash the power of technology to benefit their community or, perhaps, the entire planet.

    · First Place: quadSquad (Ukraine)

    · Second Place: Coccolo (Japan)

    · Third Place: wi-GO (Portugal)

    2. Game Design. Students select one of two tracks (Phone or Xbox/Windows) to create games that not only are fun but also help to improve the world at the same time.


    · First Place: TANG Thai (Thailand)

    · Second Place: The Doers (Brazil)

    · Third Place: Hotfix (Belgium)


    · First Place: Drexel Dragons (United States)

    · Second Place: Ecosia (France)

    · Third Place: Turtle Games (Hungary)

    Winners of Imagine Cup Challenges

    In addition to the core Imagine Cup Competitions, students were able to compete in five online Challenges. These Challenges provided opportunities for students to compete for an additional $75,000 (U.S.) cash, as well as other prizes. The following are the Challenge winners:

    1. IT Challenge. Students are tested on their knowledge of IT systems and faced with unique scenarios to solve, competing for title of best of the best in the industry.

    · First Place: Alexandru Ticlea (Romania)

    · Second Place: Sherif Talaat (Egypt)

    · Third Place: Joshua Sim (Singapore)

    2. Kinect Fun Labs Challenge Sponsored by Microsoft Studios. This challenge brings the Imagine Cup into the living room by asking students to think about entertainment with a social conscience.

    · First Place: Team Interlab (Brazil)

    · Second Place: Team Whiteboard Pirates (United States)

    · Third Place: Team Flexifly (Poland)

    3. Windows Azure Challenge. Students leverage the Windows Azure platform features to build Web applications that help solve the world’s toughest problems.

    · First Place: Virtual Dreams Azure (Brazil)

    · Second Place: Complex (Romania)

    · Third Place: The Klein Team (Algeria)

    4. Windows Metro Style App Challenge sponsored by Microsoft Windows. With this challenge, Microsoft is inviting students to be at the forefront of creating applications for the new Windows 8 platform.

    · First Place: Virtual Dreams Metro (Brazil)

    · Second Place: nLife (Ukraine)

    · Third Place: TokTok (Korea)

    5. Windows Phone Challenge sponsored by Nokia. Students are challenged to create an XAP application that not only will help solve the world toughest problems, but also that people will love having on their Windows Phones.

    · First Place: Vivid (Egypt)

    · Second Place: The Stack (Poland)

    · Third Place: Aaltovation (Finland)

    The People Have Spoken: Team D Labs From India Honored at Imagine Cup

    The People’s Choice Award sponsored by Bing is the only Imagine Cup award that is determined by the public, and it includes a $10,000 (U.S.) prize. The D Labs created software to help dyslexic children use games to learn more effectively by using Kinect for Xbox 360. Parents can also track their children’s progress by reviewing data captured by the solution, which is stored on Windows Azure.

    Recognizing Environmental and Sustainability Projects

    In addition to the above awards, Microsoft and Coca-Cola are proud to present the winners of the Health Awareness Award and Environmental Sustainability Award for two projects that tackle the world’s toughest health and environmental issues. The following winning teams will receive $10,000 (U.S.):

    · Health Awareness Award winners:

    o First Place: Italian Ingenium Team (Italy)

    · Environmental Sustainability Award winners:

    o First Place: Greenway (Germany)

    Imagine Cup 2013 Heads to Russia

    As is tradition at the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals, Pip Marlow, general manager of Microsoft Australia, participated in the ceremonial flag passing to mark the transition of host country duties. Nikolay Pryanishnikov, general manager of Microsoft Russia, was on hand to accept the flag on behalf of Russia, which will host the 11th annual Imagine Cup in St. Petersburg in July 2013.

    Online Resources

    Videos and other resources are available at on the Microsoft Imagine Cup Virtual Press Room. Additional photos and videos can be found through the Imagine Cup Flickr page or YouTube site.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 2012 Social Media resources


    We are saddened to say that our UK team didn't make it to the Imagine Cup finals.

    @TeamEyeWorks (Faizan Asghar, Northumbria University, Colin Squires, Newcastle College and Riccardo Viglianisi, Northumbria University) alongside their mentor Alamgir Hossain with their project MIRA (Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis system) which will enable the low-cost early detection of eye diseases such as cataracts and diabetic retinopathy which are the current leading causes of blindness.

    They did an amazing job! Here are some resources to keep up to date with the Imagine Cup Finals.






    Search for the hashtag #Imaginecup







    Facebook: www.facebook.com/microsoftimaginecup
    Social Media Team Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imaginecupsocialmediateam


    Imagine Cup WW Finals Venue PhotoSynth


    Official Blog: www.imaginecup.com/blogs/default.aspx

    Imagine Cup Social Media Team Blog http://icsocialmediateam.com/

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Curricula and resources now at Faculty Connection


    We are pleased to announce three university level courses are now available on Faculty Connection. 

    The courses are modular for easy integration into existing curricula; they are application development oriented; each contains instructor guides, PPTs, labs/tutorials and video files that accompany the exercise files.

    Designing for Modern UI

    · 11 modules that provide lectures and tutorials on how to design for the Windows 8 UI using Metro language.

    • 100 Level for Human Computer Interaction (HCI)  classes;   focus is on UI design using Metro style
    • Prerequisites:  none; suitable for any college student
    • Audience: any audience;  no programming skills required

    Application Development for Modern UI

    • This curriculum contains 9 modules that cover the fundamental concepts of developing Metro style app using JavaScript and HTML5/CSS3 with Microsoft's tools and resources.
    • 100/200 Level for web design classes/apps development
    • Prerequisites:   students need to have basic programming skill, i.e.  Intro to Computing (101) or AP Computing; usually required by any HE institution as part of 1st year classes.
    • Audience: any audience - science, engineering, art, etc

    App Development for Modern Devices

    • This course covers development systems for phones, tablets and desktop computers, focusing on  a) fundamentals of building network aware software, b) interfaces for touch and NUI devices such as Kinect; c) graphics programming such as writing code that displays augmented reality experiences
    • 200/300  Level for CS; Engineering; Science programs with apps development
    • Prerequisites:   students need to have basic programming skill and understanding of math and science
    • Audience: STEM disciplines

    For additional resources for Windows 8 Metro Style Design and App development see my previous blog post on Windows 8 development resources

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Windows 8 Metro Style Gaming


    Next week I will be at the Develop Conference, attending some of the 103 sessions, 5 keynotes, and on the Microsoft stand at the Expo. I’m looking forward to networking with the 1500 developers and 450 companies during the event and discussing the opportunity of developing Windows 8 Metro Style games.


    On http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/hh452780.aspx we list options for developing Windows 8 games.

    At present there are over 50 games available in the store using the above technologies, here are some good links to get started

    · Metro style app using JavaScript. You can use the established web technologies: HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript to develop full-screen, chrome-free games.



    · Metro style app using C++, C#, or Visual Basic and XAML. You can use managed code languages like C# and Visual Basic to develop 2D (and lightweight 3D) games. If you have developed in Silverlight for Internet Explorer or Windows Phone 7, this model will feel very familiar.



    · Metro style C++ with DirectX. You can develop both 2D and 3D games that effectively use the graphics processing horsepower on a range of Windows desktops and 3D-enabled Windows devices, from high powered gaming rigs to low power slates. It requires a strong working knowledge of Windows programming and native C/C++.





    There are a number of online tutorial around Marble Maze which is a DirectX game written in C++. This leads you to the more basic “Hello World” example over here although while the results of that example are “Hello World” in nature.

    There’s another, more realistic sample over here with a walk-through to build up a Metro style shooting game. It takes the form of a completed code sample and a walk through of what’s going on in that sample.

    It runs to around 40 source files.

    The key learning outcome for starting to build games for Metro are as follows as these would make excellent starting points for curricula development for Developing Metro Style Games.

    1) Understanding how a Metro style app gets on the screen – i.e. the infrastructure around IFrameworkViewSource and IFrameworkView.

    2) Understanding C++/CX which is a bunch of C++ extensions relatively familiar to people like me who’ve come from the C++/CLI world but a bit odd to a regular C++ developer.

    3) Understanding some of the technologies used like the Parallel Patterns Library (PPL) which our default templates throw at you.

    4) Understanding some of the C++ 11 techniques like lambdas which our default templates also throw at you.

    5) Understanding how a Metro style app is meant to work from the point of view of lifecycle management (i.e. suspend/resume/terminate).

    6) Understanding the WinRT APIs available and their main usage and purpose.

    Steps 5 & 6 are common to any Windows 8 Metro style app developer.


    There is a JavaScript tutorial but the game involved is very, very basic.


    As we are all aware, there are many game engines /frameworks (middleware) available. Some of these are already supporting development for Win 8 metro games whilst others are planning to support it within the coming months. I have listed the ones which are or have short terms plans to support W8 metro apps. I am sure that there will be more to come…



    A full games development tool/suite – physics, rendering, scripting, AI etc.

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         coming soon (for GA)

    Dev languages:                                                 (game scripting) C#, Javascript



    An Open Source, OpenGL implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         coming soon (‘later this year’)

    Dev languages:                                                 C#/XNA



    SharpDX is an open-source project delivering the full DirectX API under the .Net platform, allowing the development of high performance game, 2D and 3D graphics rendering as well as realtime sound application.

    Windows 8 Metro support:                         Now

    Dev languages:                                                 C#

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals Sydney, Australia Day 1


    The Imagine Cup 2012 worldwide finals have just got underway down under and 72 software design teams from all around the world have gathered in Sydney, Australia to celebrate and compete in the 10th Imagine Cup worldwide finals. Team EyeWorks (Faizan Asghar, Northumbria University, Colin Squires, Newcastle College and Riccardo Viglianisi, Northumbria University) alongside their mentor Alamgir Hossain are flying the flag for the UK with their project MIRA (Mobile Intelligent Retinal Analysis system) which will enable the low-cost early detection of eye diseases such as cataracts and diabetic retinopathy which are the current leading causes of blindness.

    It all kicked off at the airport this morning with competitors, mentors, judges and Microsoft staff flying in from all over the world to be greeted by a giant koala, a little treat organised by the Australian interns and MACHs. Here’s our UK team (minus Faizan for some reason) and their mentor Alamgir being greeted at the airport after a 24 hour flight!


    So day 1 kicked off with the students and staff having a quick bite to eat at the hotel before heading to the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre where the Imagine Cup worldwide finals are held this year. Here we see a multitude of bright colours, amazing outfits and enthusiasm at another level. To see some more pictures of the Imagine Cup worldwide finals so far take a look at the official Imagine Cup 2012 Facebook page. At the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre students, mentors and staff register and pick up their freebies (in this case an Imagine Cup 2012 rucksack, water bottle, t-shirt and sweatshirt – not bad for a day’s swag), programme (where we see we have an upcoming ‘cultural day’ where students have the option of a Harbour Bridge Climb, Taronga Zoo etc, Karaoke, Group photo as well as the all-exciting presentations and award ceremonies!).


    After some team time where teams have broken off to practise their presentations and do some last minute tweaking it’s time for the Opening Ceremony. At the opening ceremony we had some key figures give inspirational and exciting talks about how students are at the forefront of innovation and how these Imagine Cup projects could become the next Microsoft or Facebook, 2 companies started by students. Prominent speakers included Dan’l Lewin (CVP for Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft), Adrian Piccolo (Minister of Education, NSW), Julia Gillard (Australian Prime Minister), Walid Abu-Habda (CVP, DPE Lead, Microsoft), Moorthy Uppaluri (General Manager – Academic Team, Microsoft), Pip Marlow (General Manager Australia, Microsoft) and Jessica Watson (youngest person to sail solo around the world, young Australian of the year and bestselling author).



    Following from all of the building excitement of the talks and keynote speeches there were of course giveaways. Four teams were awarded full dev conference passes and ALL worldwide finalists (approximately 375) were given a brand new Nokia Lumia 800 today, courtesy of Nokia.

    Now that’s day 1 wrapped up but there’ll be plenty more action from the Imagine Cup worldwide finals over the coming 5 days and if you want to watch the live stream you can do so here.

  • Microsoft UK Faculty Connection

    Gaming Courses and Curricula are you thinking/teaching cloud



    Social applications (games, sharing, and location-based applications and services) are very quickly becoming the most prominent types of applications. These social applications have the potential to grow from a few users to millions of users in an incredibly short period of time, and as such, they need a robust, scalable, and dependable platform on which to run to meet the growing demands of the users.

    Social Gaming

    If we take the founding principles of Windows Azure (on-demand scalable computing resources, storage, and geographic delivery) and apply them to the needs of social games, we can quickly see how Windows Azure and Social Gaming is a perfect match. Companies like Sneaky Games (the developers of the Facebook fantasy game Fantasy Kingdoms) and Playdom (the makers of Bola Social Soccer, a Facebook, Sonico, and Orkut game with over 5 million users) are already using Windows Azure as their backend platform.

    Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games

    To make it even easier to develop social games with Windows Azure, there is the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games.  The toolkit allows you to quickly get started building new social games with Windows Azure.  It includes accelerators, libraries, developer tools, and samples. It also has specific services and code to handle capabilities unique to games, such as storing user profiles, maintaining leader boards, in-app purchasing, and so forth.


    As a starting point, the toolkit also includes the source code for a game called Tankster, created by Grant Skinner and his team at gskinner.com. The game is built with HTML5 and comes complete with reusable service-side code and documentation.  It also supports a variety of social interactions including messaging, wall posts, and comments while player achievements and game stats are presented on a live leaderboard so gamers can interact with each other.

    Try your skills at a round of Tankster >>

    Next Steps

    So what’s next?

    Download the toolkit >>

    Then have a look at the samples and Tankster.

    Deep dive into the architecture behind Tankster - Part 1 >> Part 2 >>

    If you’ve previously developed a game, see how you can overlay the functionality provided by the toolkit onto your game. If the toolkit doesn’t fit with your game, no worries. Think about your game’s architecture and where you can leverage Windows Azure’s on-demand compute, storage, and geographic delivery services to get your game in the Cloud. Either way, take this opportunity to see how you, too, can leverage the benefits of Windows Azure.

    Need access to the Cloud?

    Learn how Windows Azure can be used in curricula, support research endeavours, and enable student projects. Institution administrators can explore how to use Windows Azure for infrastructural and application need via Azure for Education Grants.


    Microsoft provides grants for educators wanting to use Windows Azure platform in their curricula. These grants are facilitated through Windows Azure academic passes, which provide the following resources for a period of 5 months from the date of redemption: More info


    Need access to Windows Azure outside the classroom? Working on a project on cloud computing? Or maybe your master thesis? As a student you can take advantage of the free Windows Azure trial offer and run a Small Windows Azure instance with a 1GB SQL Azure database for 90 days* More info


    The Windows Azure Research Engagement project aims to boost scholarly and scientific research by extending computing to the cloud. We provide a cloud computing platform and work with researchers on projects that push the frontiers of client and cloud computing. More info

    Institution Administrators

    Microsoft IT Academy provides students with the future ready technology skills they need to be successful in college and a career.

    • Increase your students’ employability with relevant technology courses that help them secure jobs following graduation.
    • Offer educators and other staff members the opportunity to enhance their own professional development
    • Gain access to resources that will help you save time and money More info
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