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



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  • criter - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    cots targeting
  • vectorm12 - Monday, January 30, 2012 - link

    Considering even Windows 7 feels slightly overloaded with functionality a large portion of users never would even think to utilize I seriously hope these tablet features won't be present in the desktop OS.

    Or if so at least give users the option to disable and remove features not essential to the OS as I doubt the majority of machines running Windows 8 will be tablets or even motion-sensor equipped devices.

    Windows is already somewhat of a chore to deploy in a business and having loads of extra junk will certainly not make it any easier to manage. Right now I can see my self setting upp domain-policies to disable gyro, compass and god knows what other nonsense that makes it into Windows.

    I REALLY hope there's going to be a Windows 8 "tablet edition".

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