Monday, March 16, 2009

Breyn: multi-user multi-touch brainstorming

Here is what appears to be a design course prototype for a multi-user brainstorming tool.

breyn - multiuser-multitouch-brainstorming from Joschka Wolf on Vimeo.

Key features to watch for:
  • Triangular toolkit object - drag or touch one of three corners to set the nexus for an action such as typing text

  • Multiple toolkit object, one for each user (maybe color-coded) - allows different users to select different tools and perform different tasks at the same time

  • Virtual keyboards - appears to be bound to specific triangle objects

  • One tool creates a box, then drag the text tool into the box to enter text

  • Draw lines from one box to another to connect them hierarchically

  • Box orientation indicates ownership

  • Extra long circular text (group ownership?) is spiraled

  • There's some mechanism (unseen) to rotate all the boxes to the next side

This is a great example of a collaborative approach to multi-touch. Many users can do individual tasks towards a common goal.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brogge releases ByteTag printing tool

Brogge over at Bo's blog has created and released a Microsoft Surface ByteTag printing tool. Looks like it would be pretty useful for anyone deploying lots of ByteTags. (Unfortunately, there is no spec for IdentityTags yet so it doesn't include those, only the 8-bit ByteTag.

  • Select the tags that you want to print
  • Indicate how many times a certain tag needs to be included
  • Limited layout option for printing your tags (page size, page margins, tag margins)
  • Printing the tags. I have tested them on our surface unit and they seem to be recognized correctly.

byte tags

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Deconstructing: Razorfish DaVinci Surface video

Razorfish released a new Microsoft Surface video called DaVinci, which is basically a physics illustrator with some cool Surface enhancements.

DaVinci (Microsoft® Surface™ Physics Illustrator) from Razorfish - Emerging Experiences on Vimeo.

The basic physics functionality is similar to the several physics illustrators already out there for PC, but this integrates the vision system of Surface for some pretty cool effects. There looks like some extras like the gravity control which makes it work well in the multi-orientation UX. It also uses some physical objects as dials, which allows great affordance. (Pretty similar to the ReacTable.)

I realize it's more of a concept demo than full application, so isn't expected to be fully featured. Given that, here are my thoughts regarding the user experience:

Good UX:
  • Very good integration with vision system, shows off unique features of Surface

  • Good use of the ink system. The finger, paintbrush, and toy car all create different size strokes

  • Multi-orientation through controlling gravity and gravity vortexes (maybe they call it something different)

Bad UX:
  • The control panel is pretty "WIMP"-y. There has to be a better NUI way to integrate those controls, like the physical (gravity?) dial

  • Dragging components around seems laggy, although this may have been on purpose due to the physics simulation. This is particularly obvious during the pong simulation, and just makes Surface itself look laggy. If it is meant to be springy, then a visualization of the temporary spring connecting the component and the fingers would help a lot.

  • The three finger gesture to connect a component to the background is not discoverable and doesn't have any feedback! At least a color change would help. On the plus side, three finger gestures are not likely to done accidentally. Perhaps this one is filed under advanced gestures, but how will the advanced user learn it unless they are shown by else in the know? This needs progressive disclosure.

Don't get me wrong, this is a very cool application. The core functionality looks awesome, but I know there is more potential for refining the control mechanisms and fully implementing the Surface UX guidelines.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Announcing: InfoStrat.VE - Virtual Earth 3D for WPF and Microsoft Surface

Huge news!

Today I got final approval to publish our WPF Virtual Earth 3D control on CodePlex. It is open source under the LGPL, and it is now live!

This control comes in two versions: one for regular WPF applications and one with Microsoft Surface enhancements (multitouch pan and zoom gestures).

I am the primary developer for this project at InfoStrat - take a look at some of the projects we have used this in.

Previous implementation of Virtual Earth on Surface were done using transparent windows and the map itself had limitations (no rotation or transforms, etc.) due to Win32 interop.

InfoStrat.VE uses some magic to eliminate these restrictions. It also takes advantage of WPF data binding for controlling various properties such as the camera location. You can add pushpins by simply adding a WPF-based VEPushPin as a child element. VEPushPins can also be provided by a data-bound collection.

It's as easy as this:

Go check it out!

Update 5:07 pm: CodePlex itself is having some timeout issues, so if the link doesn't work try again later.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Microsoft Surface comic

I tried my hand at some humor using Here is the result:

Concept demo needs work
(Click for full comic.)

Funny? Lame? Let me know.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

World Builder (short video)

This video is not meant to be a UI design prototype (like 2019) but it has some neat UI eye candy anyway. A man creates a 3-D world using augmented reality interface, which we find out later is probably transmitted into his brain similar to the Matrix.

Watch for the different types of spacial gestures he uses to create his world.

For your enjoyment:

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What do you want in a NUI prototyping tool?

Richard Wand finds existing prototyping tools lacking when creating prototypes and mockups of NUI interfaces. We had a short conversation about what features would be nice and then he poses the question on his blog:
In my quest to find the most efficient tool for defining the behaviour of an application I posted a tweet for the #Surface community to come forth with their digital sketch tool of choice. I received responses from the usual suspects - @joshblake @stevedawson @lhamilton – who are active Microsoft Surface twitterers (and well worth following). My question was timely as they were individually considering developing a UI prototyping tool for NUI’s.

Joshua (@joshblake) posed the question back to me - what features would I want from such a UI prototyping tool? UI prototyping tools such as Denim and Balsamiq were inspired by the application authors looking for a better solution for digital sketching. Before I test these out I thought I’d open Joshua’s question up to a wider audience...

What would you want from a digital sketch tool for the early stages of UI design?
Head on over there and join the conversation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Surface SDK Version.Next Video

Came across this video in my twitter feeds. This video shows some unreleased features of the next version of the Surface SDK.

EDIT: Comments report this video is from a prototype implementation at Disney.

  • Applications running across multiple tables
  • Automatic application switching when a tag is recognized
  • Loading bar when switching application
  • The application launcher was never shown

I bet the tags are identity tags, which were always planned for the next version. It wouldn't make much sense to allocate the few 8-bit tags to switching applications.

Via lhamilton

Monday, March 2, 2009

Joe Fletcher on Touch and Gesture Computing

Joe Fletcher from the Microsoft Surface team talks to Robert Hess about Touch and Gesture Computing.

Channel 9 - The Knowledge Chamber

He has some insightful comments about designing gestures, the advantages and drawbacks of different touch technologies, and Natural User Interface development for both Surface and Windows 7. Overall Joe has a very pragmatic approach and attitude towards touch and gesture computing.

One interesting comments (to me at least) was when Joe talked about how he works on Surface projects but also Windows 7 touch projects (5:45 mark.) He also suggests that pretty soon there will be a huge variety of touch and multi-touch hardware. This relates to my posts last weeks about the Future of Microsoft Surface (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

One very insightful comment (6:30 mark) is about how touch features with Windows 7 needs consider that not everyone will have touch hardware. Touch applications need to add to the experience, not be required for the experience. Robert points out that this is similar to the early days of the mouse when Windows provided keyboard shortcuts for everything the mouse could do as not everyone had a mouse.

He also suggests later (10:00 mark) on that the current multitouch computers (Dell XT, HP Touchsmart) have some quirks that still need to be worked out, and the hardware platform is a moving target. The advantage of Surface (and why we should be investing in Surface now!) is that it is a stable platform with many features that these other platforms will not have for a while. Surface's vision system and tag recognition is used in production application today, which Windows 7 hardware may not have that for a while.

Joe also discusses (12:45 mark) the novelty factor of touch computing. If you jump in now you can learn as you go and create relatively simple apps and people will be satisfied. Later on when people expect more advanced applications you won't be able to wow them with basic demos anymore. Pong used to be the state of the art and everyone was amazed, but today even young children expect more out of their computer games.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Microsoft Office Labs Vision of 2019

I just came across this concept video created by Microsoft Office Labs. There are so many interesting concepts in here. I'm still going through them but take a look.


<a href="" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

Full video:

Via: istartedsomething via twitter SteveDawson