Windows 8's tablet-centric focus means that it's going to pick up a lot of new features to support hardware particular to those devices - Microsoft's Gavin Gear took to the Building Windows 8 blog today to explain more about how Windows 8 will treat accelerometers, gyrometers, and other sensors when they're present in hardware.

Some of Windows 8's sensor support is basic stuff that has been in most modern tablets and laptops for awhile now - support for ambient light sensors (already present in Windows 7) and automatic screen orientation rotation is pretty old hat at this point. Microsoft's treatment of 3D motion sensors is more interesting - integrating a gyroscope into your hardware is one thing, but making software that filters out movement "noise" (for example, slight shaking of a tablet as a user breathes or walks) while still responding to input quickly and smoothly is quite another.

To solve this problem, Microsoft has implemented something it calls "sensor fusion," which takes raw data from an accelerometer, gyrometer, and magnetometer and synthesizes it into an accurate 3D compass and 3D inclinometer, and also uses that input to detect device orientation. Apps that still want to use the unfiltered data from individual sensors (Microsoft's example use case was a pedometer) still have access to it, but apps that require more precision in motion can use this combination of movement sensors to get a better experience. Sensor APIs have been made available to and Metro app developers as part of the new Windows Runtime (WinRT), as well to traditional Win32 app developers.

To make use of these features, hardware manufacturers will need to implement sensors that meet Windows' certification guidelines. Sensors built to these standards, which were introduced to the USB-IF in July of 2011, will be supported by a class driver in Windows, meaning that they won't rely on third-party drivers to operate. Mobile broadband chips and USB 3.0 controllers are two other types of devices that will see new class drivers in Windows 8.

For more information, the full post is linked below for your convenience.

Source: Building Windows 8 blog



Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • sdsdv10 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Not saying this is a bad idea, just not one MS would really be interested in pushing

    Your concept of one "strong" PC with many users with require only one "server PC" in a home, rather than mutliple computers. Thus MS would end up selling only one copy of Windows 8, rather than multiple copies. That really isn't in their best business interest. Again, not necessarily a bad idea I just don't see MS going after it.
  • inighthawki - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Not necessarily true. MS could simply require user licenses, that is, charge based on number of connections - possibly based on max concurrent connections or per unique user.
  • marc1000 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    yeah, I know that this idea is not really that interesting to MS (or anyone) right now. but it is something i dream about... i could not care less for "metro" and "windows on a tablet".

    what i want is to forget i have a PC at home, and just enjoy the experience - watch movies, play games, browse the web - on any HDMI enabled display and a few microphones/inputs (keyboard/mouse/gamepad).
  • marc1000 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    without the need for 3 or 4 computers around the house, of course. we can do the same with a lot of computers, but they all require proper set-up, maintenance, updates....
  • name99 - Sunday, January 29, 2012 - link

    Computers --- the "thinking part" are cheap and getting cheaper.
    The reason this isn't happening is that it makes no sense. Why bother trying to optimize for the part that is in abundance?

    What matters is the OS helping keep multiple devices in sync, not in trying to recreate the mainframe experience of 1965.
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    You can do this with Windows 7.
  • marc1000 - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    See above, I'm not talking about terminal services :)
  • dcollins - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    There was a company a few years ago (forgot their name) that tried to market a product similar to what you're describing. Basically, it was a wireless display plus touch screen that could connect to your computer remotely, allowing you to use your high end desktop from the comfort of your couch. It didn't work very well: the display video had to be compressed to work wirelessly, responsiveness was poor and the whole thing cost almost as much a full blown laptop.

    The idea of thin clients has been around forever. What you're describing is basically a super thin client because some networking support would be needed on the remote side, unless you plan on running hdmi cables all around your house. You would either need broad support from display manufacturers or you will need to purchase some remote box to interface with legacy displays and input devices. It is theoretically possible, but it hasn't worked out in the past because the cost is high compared to the size of the market.

    Either way, Windows is not what is preventing your dream from becoming a reality. MS could and would support this type of technology were it available.
  • epobirs - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    There have been numerous versions of this going back to the DOS days. The value proposition was never very strong when PCs kept getting better while the prices kept dropping. Even leaving inflation aside, the complete system you can buy for $500 today is amazing compared to what you would have gotten for twice or three times that amount in previous generations. If you don't have some serious high-end gaming or other performance demands, it's gotten pretty hard to spend much on a single PC.

    So why would most people bother with managing multiple users on a single host system when everybody can have their own for cheap join together on a simple network?

    I had this same conversation back in the days when the 80286 was considered high-end. This guy trying to sell stuff to my boss was utterly convince that multi-user micros were the next big thing. Even back then it was obvious to me the letting everyone have their own largely underutilized PC was preferable and an easier sell.

    Most of the old complaints are now moot as newer systems are so much smarter about power usage so you don't burn gas like a Ferrari when you're only doing Accord level tootling about.
  • p05esto - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    MS should embed Kinect motion sensors into the tablet, so instead of having to touch the screen you just wave your hand to close apps. They could also add voice recognition like "close app". The voice recognition built into W7 is already amazing if you give it a chance, I think on a tablet it would be even more handy. Unlimited possibilities with motion sensors and voice. Sure would be easier to dictate an email instead of using terrible touch keyboards.... are you listening MS?

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now