Aug 13

Picture Sharing with the Microsoft Surface

Imagine spending your vacation in the Swiss Alps. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could share these pictures among your friends in a easy and cool way? Imagine a big touch table where you can show around your pictures, manipulate, zoom them and pass them on to other users. Well, this has now become possible to do with multi-touch table technology. One such device is the Surface multi-touch table at Project54. The Microsoft Surface offers a unique environment where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with data and each other. The Surface lets you grab digital content with your hands and perform various functions using simple gestures and touch. A Surface Software Development Kit is also shipped with the Surface table which allows researchers and other software developers to develop their own applications for the Surface.

As a student intern under Andrew Kun at the University of New Hampshire for the summer of 2010, I looked into what the Surface offers. For the majority of my work, I explored the world of Natural User Interfaceoffered by the Surface by developing an application which allows users to share pictures in an easy and appealing environment. Apart from this, I also worked on developing an application that allows Windows Mobile devices to upload pictures to my Surface application. My work on the handhelds was done in collaboration with Tim April and Dylan Fransway.

My picture sharing application allows users to upload pictures on the Surface from their mobile devices (or any wireless device) and with the help of some very simple and intuitive gestures, the pictures can be moved, zoomed and played with. The users can make collages by manipulating and placing pictures anywhere on the Surface and taking a screenshot of the screen. The application allows users to transfer pictures to other users(thus transferring images to their Mobile devices), send them to Bluetooth enabled devices or upload them to web based services such as Flickr. With more and more mobile devices and cameras having a built-in GPS, pictures today are usually geo-tagged. Taking advantage of this fact, geo-tagged images can be viewed on a virtual globe. The Surface environment allows interaction with Microsoft’s virtual globe and thus storytelling can be made more immersive and interesting with our application.

Check out the video feature a demo of our Picture Sharing Application in which two users exchange images, create a collage and upload a few pictures to Flickr:

Pilot studies indicate that the photo sharing application is easy to use. The gestures required are natural, intuitive and effective. Digging deeper, the application presents very low workload statistics as compared to when the same functionalities are achieved in conventional plug and play picture sharing scenario. Note that my work can be extended to include features from the work of Mike Farrar on voice tagging and Trupti Telang’s Multi Touch Dispatch System.

Jatin Matani