Tablet PC and MS Surface Apps

6 Sep

When I initially worked with the Microsoft Surface table at this year’s HIMSS conference in Chicago, IL I was left a little uninspired.  I think the deep dives into some different applications at this years MSHUG conference got me thinking about how this tech could be used in a clinic.  It is definitely a collaborative tool and could be used by physicians as discussion points during clinic visits.  While I would question the real use of a $30k table I can certainly see some multi-touch monitors being utilized in some ambulatory exam rooms to interact with patient records.  I decided to do a little deep dive myself into these applications on my multi-touch Tablet PC to see how we might incorporate some of these technologies in future implementations.  While multi-touch is available for the Windows Presentation Foundation and development in Visual Studio there was a demo during MSHUG of a multi-touch Silverlight implementation which was quite impressive.  There is a lot of development going on around Silverlight and it is worth taking a look at.  I’ve seen several of the CUI components that are slated for the first half of 2010 and they will certainly find a home in some of our applications.   I thought I would take the Surface apps for a test spin so after doing a little search I found the Microsoft Surface Touch Pack for Windows 7.  One of the several apps downloaded was the Surface Collage



This application allowed for the manipulation of pictures by spinning them and scaling them according to various multi-touch inputs.  I dragged a few of my blog post entries onto the collage canvas and while my PC isn’t the fastest it certainly was responsive enough for me to interact with. 


Of special note was the prerequisite requirement to install a NVIDIA PhysX Driver and the Microsoft XNA Redistributable Framework  prior to loading the series of applications.  Clearly advanced graphics hardware will benift these multi-touch applications.  The bottom of the screen scrolled either left or right depending on the direction by which the user moves their finger across the screen.  The motion was fluid and intuitive.  It is nice to see Microsoft breaking away from the norm of user interfaces and trying something completely different.  If Microsoft can pull off the hardware and software integration needed to make this work then they can certainly apply this technology to other areas such as interactive advertising and kiosks.   Time will tell how we incorporate this technology into our architecture however the concept of distributed computing and interaction among different systems certainly spurs my  imagination.

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