Unboxing Australia’s first Microsoft Surface table

August 19, 2008

Yesterday, we (Amnesia) took delivery of Australia’s first two Microsoft Surface tables. We believe they were the first units to ship outside the US. Not often you get your hands on something no one else has seen, so we thought we’d share the grand opening of the boxes…

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These crates are heavy. Around 125kg each. “That’s a Big Ass Box” quipped one of the designers.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark eat your heart out…

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No time to waste we borrowed a crowbar and a hammer from the courier to get inside.

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The tables we packed very securely and nothing was even slightly scuffed from transit.

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Something to hang on the wall to inspire everyone… a big finger 🙂

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The entire package is very polished.

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The entire table is packed in what is essentially a GIANT ziplock bag.

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When unpacked, the table has the calibration mat and some other printed materials covering the screen.

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Up and running in just a few minutes. We actually had our first app (with our own content) up and running within 20 minutes which is great news.

Meantime, staff can’t stop walking up to the table and playing with the demos that were included – A big ass table yes… but so much fun.


Amazing WPF demo

August 7, 2008

This amazing demo shows off some new features of soon-to-be-released WPF v3. (WPF is big brother to Microsoft SilverLight)

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3D sphere in transparent window with per-pixel hit testing!

These are some of the features I can remember off the top of my head (that blow off the top of my head!):

  • Transparent windows with per-pixel hit-testing. This means, for example, you can have a 3D model floating on your desktop (with no window), and mouse clicks are so accurate you can click between gaps in the 3D model and grab applications behind (see video @ ~8:00).
  • Supports fully interactive 2D UI elements on 3D surfaces. The demo shows buttons, textboxes, scrollbars, tick boxes… all being used on a 3D cloth simulation (see video @ ~6:00).
  • Full integration with DirectX/3D. This means elements of existing 3D games (think World of Warcraft, Halo or the Sims) and applications can be used seamlessly within a WPF app and vice versa.
  • Programmable pixel shaders for hardware accelerated special effects. Imagine a video playing on a 3D plane, with a real time chroma key / transparency … all without taxing the CPU (see video @ ~10:45). Translation – you will be able to apply any photoshop filter in realtime to your UI elements.
  • Writeable bitmap. Fast access to a traditional bitmap image for custom software rendering. Perfect for creating 2D bitmap games, paint programs etc.

There are a ton of other features but I wont bore you.

Not that these demos show anything that would necessasily be sane to do in real life – the exercise is left to the reader to imagine how these powerful features could be applied to create stunning, compelling, revolutionary, intuitive user experiences.

Who is going to be the first to harness WPF to its true potential? I have yet to see anything close to being a killer WPF application… but these upcoming features really leave imagination as the last remaining obstacle.

When a team with the right combination of creative & tech finally get stuck into WPF the results are going to be spectacular.