Archive for the ‘WPF’ Category
Microsoft had planned to only ship one application on the new Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft PixelSense platform, and they came to Stimulant to help design and develop it. Stimulant collaborated with the Microsoft Surface team to conceive and implement exciting new ways to let multiple people collaboratively search for images and locations, while intuitive clustering algorithms make maintaining context easy.
Tagged objects can store searches for frequent and easy execution, and Microsoft Tag lets users take media, business info and directions with them on their personal device.
Because we’re always intrigued by opportunities to visualize real-time data in engaging ways, Microsoft’s Surface team got our attention when they asked us to create an updated version of Event Live, their event-based social media visualizer. Our fully redesigned and rebranded Social Stream application aggregates live Tweets, images from Flickr, and news stories into a multi-directional animated “stream,” creating a real-time display of relevant social content. Multiple users can simultaneously read, rotate, and explore all of the live data on the selected topics, and can even “scrub” the stream itself backwards and forwards.
One exciting feature showcased in Live Stream is the addition of Microsoft Tags. Users can flip over any item in the stream to reveal a Microsoft Tag. When photographed with a mobile device running a tag recognition application, the tag is translated into a hyperlink that immediately takes the user to that URL in their mobile browser. It’s a quick and easy way to snapshot content that you want to save for later.
As with most of Stimulant’s projects, Social Stream has a complexity far beyond its simple end-user interface. A hidden administrative control panel can be launched by placing any object on Surface with a specific Surface byte tag attached to it. This control panel then gives an administrator the ability to adjust volume, stream speed and direction, diagnose connectivity, and ban specific topics or users from the stream (which then updates in real-time). The administrator can also enable a profanity filter and determine whether the stream populates chronologically or randomly. These advanced options are all available without having to interrupt the experience or leave the application.
Social Stream premiered at Worldwide Partner Conference where visitors to the Microsoft booth were able to watch the live chatter about the conference float by in real-time on Microsoft Surface. Participants enjoyed the new and engaging multi-user experience that highlighted immediately relevant content. Stimulant also enjoyed our first chance to create an application using Microsoft’s bold, typography-oriented Metro design language on Surface.
Best of all, the Social Stream source code is available on github. Re-skinning the interface and customizing the branding elements are simple tasks, and adjusting the feed items merely requires basic editing. Stimulant is proud to have this code become publicly available, and we look forward to the creative ways in which this application will be repurposed.
SAP software runs many of the world’s largest enterprises. SAP’s founder, Hasso Platner, envisioned a “boardroom of the future” that would make executive-level meetings and decision making far more immediate and flexible, bolstered with at-your-fingertips data that is as current as possible. He posited: “What if you could ask any question of your business and get an answer immediately?” SAP reached out to Stimulant, Cisco and Microsoft to help them realize an answer to this question. The result was InSite Studio, unveiled at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando.
We created a multi-touch remote collaboration interface that integrated into a Cisco CTS3000 Telepresence Suite, in support of SAP’s own Co-Innovation Team. InSite Studio allows meeting participants to queue up content and literally throw applications, websites, and other documents onto one of three massive shared screens. Content can be easily adjusted with intuitive gestural UI throughout the experience. This enables a seamless mixture of HD teleconferencing and freeform screen sharing between up to twelve concurrent meeting participants.
Every user experience decision supported the streamlining of decision-making between remote collaborators, removing as much “cognitive friction” as possible from the software experience. Stimulant created an intuitive and satisfying gestural UI experience, building in the ability to “flick” or “throw” content to a desired display and to remove it just as easily with a dragging gesture. The software interface also features a curved queue of content, to make scrubbing through content physically comfortable in smooth, sweeping gestures. Applications and content are queued up before the meeting, and can be edited before being shared. Another gesture gives users the shortcut ability to reopen a previously shared application by revealing and navigating a list specific to each display.
InSite Studio showcases two different types of telepresence units. One unit features three HD multi-touch workstations built into the main telepresence suite, each usable by one or two concurrent users while seated. Above these workstations, three large monitors offer HD displays of any applications the users chooses to share, as well as live video from the remote conference location. The second has only one multi-touch workstation and three large monitors, simulating a geographically distant collaborator with less hardware. By having both of these suites available in different locations at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP was able to demonstrate the interaction of two remote offices and highlight the powerful aspects of the “boardroom of the future.”
Stimulant used a variety of technologies to create the user interface. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) was used for the main interface, including some of the just-released touch features in .NET 4 and the Surface Toolkit for Windows Touch. WCF was used to communicate between instances of the application, low-level Win32 calls were used to manage running applications, and raw sockets were used to communicate with SAP’s custom-designed hardware. Stimulant provided an end-to-end set of services on the front end, including interaction design and visual design, hardware prototyping, qualification and integration, and development and quality assurance on the software side.
Engaging with a variety of innovative hardware and getting each piece to effectively communicate with the entire system was a satisfying challenge for Stimulant and SAP. Each multi-touch workstation was powered by a computer running Windows 7. The multi-touch workstations were 32″ Samsung LED displays paired with PQ Labs Multi-Touch G3 multi-touch overlays, surrounded by SAP-designed custom enclosures. The modular setup of the hardware was part of the success of InSite Studio, keeping the experience cost-effective and reproducible.
Stimulant is proud to have been named a Surface Premier Partner by Microsoft! We’ve been working with Surface since the release of v1, showcased the first integration between the iPhone and Microsoft Surface, developed the first application to be Certified for Microsoft Surface (and the first third-party freeware app for Surface), and are excited to continue our commitment to the platform. We’re ready to roll with Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface — in fact, we collaborated with Microsoft to design and develop Bing for Microsoft Surface, which ships pre-installed on all Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface units, as well as Social Stream for Microsoft Surface.
Here’s to seeing what the future brings with the radical evolution of this one-of-a-kind platform!
Stimulant, in partnership with Trapeze, helped WIND Mobile extend their core brand philosophy of “The Power of Conversation” to the in-store experience with a Microsoft Surface-based assisted sales application. Surface lives in the heart of the store in most WIND Mobile retail locations, providing delightfully simple access to key product information and facilitating two-way conversation between employees and customers.
As a consultative tool, the Surface table allows customers to compare devices and plans side-by-side, helping to identify the options that work best for them. Information is made available quickly, clearly and in one layer of engagement. Stimulant worked closely with Trapeze to bring the WIND Mobile brand alive on Microsoft Surface, leveraging custom sound design, playful 2D physics and object recognition, all carefully blended into a seamless and engaging experience. The application leverages Stimulant’s proprietary product comparison engine, as well as a custom content management system to enable easy updating across all stores. Like all of our projects, extra care was taken to ensure scalability and stability for years to come.
Subsequent versions of the application will focus on the customization of services and devices directly from Surface.
Kodak, a stalwart exhibitor at the annual Print tradeshow, did something different in 2009. They bucked the industry practice of bringing truly massive commercial printing presses to the show. Instead decided to attract attendee interest with final printed samples, and use a nearly all-digital environment to tell the story of the Kodak technology used to bring these printed materials to life.
Working with Kodak’s marketing firm Partners + Napier, exhibit design firm Mirrorshow, and our old friends Obscura Digital, Stimulant created software for Microsoft Surface that allowed trade show attendees to simply pick up a printed sample or object, place it on Surface, and have Surface reveal details on that object’s printing methods and what Kodak products were used in its manufacture. We created a byte tag recognition system that’s more robust than is typical, so that even large objects could be only partially placed on Surface but still be recognized by the system. Traditional “attract modes” were replaced with local “attract messages” to entice attendees to use the table even when another user was already doing so, leveraging the inherent multi-user capabilities of Surface. Our team also externalized all content so that the client could manage all content themselves, even after the trade show doors opened.
Hundreds of trade show attendees and booth personnel used six Surface units in the Kodak booth without a hiccup during the entire show. Sales personnel found it invaluable to have such information at their fingertips without requiring printed collateral, and trade show attendees could follow along or even acquire knowledge on their own, given the utter simplicity of Stimulant’s nearly-invisible interface, based on their own interests and needs.
TouchTones (formerly ToneGrid) is a multi-user collaborative music maker that doesn’t require any musical knowledge in order to make something beautiful. Just tap the colored spheres to get them started and change the melody in real time! TouchTones has a range of innovative features:
- TouchTones features four sounds and a four-octave “grid,” which acts like a keyboard.
- Up to four people can use TouchTones at once.
- Symmetrical controls on all sides let any user control any sound.
- Holding down a colored button while tapping an arrow with another lets the user play the grid like an instrument. You can even play chords!
- Volume control, reset button, and integrated help video makes learning and playing a snap.
- No written instructions are needed to learn how to use TouchTones!
TouchTones is being made available for free for any Microsoft Surface running Service Pack 1 or higher. If you’re interested in having Stimulant visually reskin the application, replace the stock sounds with something custom, or want additional features, just ask. TouchTones is designed to be fully customized to meet your specific branding goals. Feel free to contact us for any general inquiries regarding TouchTones.
To learn more about TouchTones, or to download the installer, visit Stimulant’s Product Page.
Stimulant, a leader in the design and development of custom multi-touch and multi-user software and a Microsoft Surface strategic partner, proudly collaborated with Microsoft Corp. to develop Bing for Microsoft Surface and Social Stream for Microsoft Surface. These applications take full advantage of the latest iteration of Microsoft Surface, Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface, which was unveiled at 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 5, 2011.
Both applications enable multiple people to simultaneously interact with rich content using both physical objects and fingers. Bing for Samsung SUR40 marries a rich natural user interface with the power of Bing, giving users the ability to search the Internet for images, browse locations on a map and get directions, and find nearby businesses and attractions. Social Stream for Samsung SUR40 lets Microsoft Surface owners create customized Twitter, Flickr and RSS-based news feed searches, and enables multiple users to interact with an animated stream of real-time feed items. Both applications use Microsoft Tag technology to let users take content with them on their mobile device.
Here are some recently released videos of Surface v2 from CES, featuring some footage of Bing in action:
“We’re thrilled to see the progression of Microsoft Surface, and are excited to once again collaborate with Microsoft to bring amazing multi-user experiences to life,” said Stimulant president, Darren David. “With greater resolution, a more compact form factor, wider availability and a lower price, Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface continues to energize our efforts to create intuitive and magical digital experiences for a wide variety of customers.”
Stimulant has been a premier provider of applications for Microsoft Surface since the platform’s first release. With over 3 years of experience in the next-generation user interface field, Stimulant is uniquely positioned to build rich multi-user applications for all industry verticals.
We’re on-site in Orlando this week helping SAP showcase their InSite Studio initiative on the Innovations Campus, which marries in-memory computing with a large-scale, Windows 7 touch-based UI and a Cisco TelePresence System 3000. The last slide of SAP chairman Hasso Plattner’s Sapphire 2009 keynote was a sketch of this idea, and we were asked to help bring his vision to life for SAPPHIRE Now. The solution enables business decision makers to drill down into business analytics, review data and make changes from distributed locations in real-time, using SAP’s suite of business software, a variety of devices, and a bespoke multi-touch interface designed and built by Stimulant. Our UI integrates deeply with Windows 7, providing an efficient way to control and share live applications via the Cisco TelePresence System 3000, using only touch. This is a massive engineering feat, and we’re thrilled to have had the pleasure of working side-by-side with the insanely talented folks on SAP’s Chairman’s Special Projects and Design Services teams. A full case study is forthcoming, but for now, come swing by the studio at SAPPHIRE Now — we’ll be demoing every hour until Wednesday.
Many clients come to us referring to the interfaces from the film Minority Report. GM literally meant it, though, when they asked Obscura Digital for see-through touchscreen interfaces on glass for the NAIAS 2008 Conference in Detroit.
Creating interaction beyond the computer.
From desktop to device, multi-touch to gestural and portable to permanent, Stimulant crafts magical experiences for computers that don't look like computers.