The Microsoft Surface is awesome for viewing images. Throw an image in a Scatterview and viola… you have a nice object that you can scale, rotate and flick about the screen. After trying it out with some default test images, I thought it’d be nice to see some quality photos, so I converted the Silverlight Flickr Viewer I made to a WPF Surface application. The app receives a feed of 100 photos tagged “interesting” by Flickr users.
Our first initial batch of Microsoft Surface units that we received came pre-loaded with the pilot version of the Microsoft Surface SDK. This pilot included a few demo applications that served as tech demos for the product’s capabilities. However, after developing a few applications for the Microsoft Surface, we began to notice a slew of performance problems, mostly regarding contact recognition and overall sluggishness.
On June 30th, 2008, Microsoft released the RTM build of the Microsoft Surface SDK. This new release promised performance increases, improved stability, and better contact capturing and recognition. After the long update process we finally had our units running the shiny new SDK. The first thing we noticed was a modified version of the default Attract Application. Attract apps are designed to attract users to the Microsoft Surface with useless, but fun, very small apps that entice users to touch and play with it. Microsoft’s default Attract Application is a top-down view of a small pond that allows water to move in sync with your hand gestures. With the new version, not only can you change the background image as you might expect, but you can also change the reflection map. Cool! There are underwater lights in each corner and an overhead light. With the ability to change these settings based on time, you can really make a simulation that impresses people over and over again. However, we still had one lingering issue: contact hover. The Microsoft Surface will capture contacts that are up to an inch high from the table top. This produces many unwanted contacts and forces us to do a lot of contact filtering in code.
The RTM build also included a few new demo applications and updates to previous demo apps. However, the most exciting addition was the update to the Microsoft Surface SDK’s APIs. Microsoft introduced new events and functionality that we can use to create even more exciting apps. Needless to say, we’re eagerly anticipating Microsoft Surface SDK 2.0.