Monthly Archives: June 2011

Radial menu love for Bing Visual Search prototype

Radial menus, otherwise known as pie menus, don’t get enough love and this prototype for Bing Visual Search proves it. Although a couple years old, this concept made by designer John DiMartile demonstrates an interesting wheel-based UI for Bing Visual Search, the feature for discovering subjects and topics. He notes,

Tasked with coming up with a compelling way to search through images on the new Bing search for Microsoft, we came up with several concepts and designs. The route I took was based on the concept of the Volvelle. It gave easy access to get to related content, as well as built you a trail of volvelles to see how your choices linked back to the original starting point. I designed and animated this concept, as well as animated the rest of the concepts for presentation purposes.

The Surface is the only Microsoft product I know to use a radial menu. As research and common sense shows, a radial menu has many advantages over the traditional list-based context menu, but for has seen little adoption beyond video games. I can only hope a future version of Windows will finally make the radial menu a common control.

Battle for Beauty: Toronto fights for a beautiful web

Next time Canucks fans, instead of rioting, vent your frustration by throwing soft balls at “Mr. Clutter”, “Peeping-Tom” and “Eternal Loadworm” instead – all enemies of a great web experience.

The Battle for Beauty interactive event in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, sponsored by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9, turned out to be quite a success. According to the event organizers, over 1,200 in-person participants hit 12,400 critters by throwing over 37,000 “Internet Explorer” balls at the interactive screen. In addition, online players participated simultaneously in the event.

Of course putting together such a game is no easy task which is why this “making-of” video is so interesting to see the whole development from start to finish. It looks like a lot of fun.

Nokia N9: a pretty good effort without Microsoft

For a company that partnered with Microsoft to take advantage of what most believed to be a stronger mobile platform seems to do a damn fine job at making a v1 mobile operating system on their own. It’s as if webOS and Metro had a baby, a cute baby.

I know that there’s already enough mobile platforms to go around but it was a surprise to me to see Nokia N9‘s OS at release will be offering features Windows Phone 7 users will have to wait for in the upcoming Mango update – for example multitasking and deep-linking.

If that wasn’t enough, the N9 has a super-sleek quick settings menu – something I’ve been longing for in Windows Phone.

The Minority Report Kinect SDK hacks begin

Mark the date. This is the beginning of what I can only imagine to be a long stream of Minority Report-inspired Kinect SDK experiments.

Barely two days after the Kinect for Windows SDK beta was released, .NET developer Kevin Connolly has already successfully implemented a primitive but inspiring demo that hooks into the Windows 7 Flip 3D window management functionality, activated by gestures not from the ones used in the movie. Granted, it didn’t work perfectly, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

It’s funny to think just how much influence a movie nearly a decade old has had and is still having on natural user interfaces. Luckily for us, the movie was set in 2054 which means the Kinect for Windows SDK just gave us a 43-year head start. In the words of this developer, “imagine what we’ll see in a few months”.

Update: Follow along his YouTube channel for updates as he continues to refine the hack.

Four-storey Bing image background drawn in person

Without a doubt, the person who picks Bing.com’s background image of the day have one of the best jobs at Microsoft. Especially since they don’t have to actually draw the photo, unlike the two painters who are responsible for the huge four-storey high Bing billboard ad in Denver. This 3-minute long time lapse provided by Branded Cities shows off their handy work.

From what I can tell by the changes in lighting, it took these guys around 7 days to complete the massive replica of the Bing.com homepage, photo, search box and links included. Assuming they only had just a small-scale reference image to work with, this is an impressive effort.

Fingers-on with the HP TouchSmart 610-1030A

The same day Microsoft showed off the new touch-friendly user interface for the upcoming Windows 8, a demo unit of the recently updated HP TouchSmart 610 all-in-one desktop PC arrived, with Windows 7.

Even before I opened the box, I felt bad for HP knowing this product will be exponentially better with a new operating system a year from now. Having said that, I was still curious to find out how the flagship Windows touch PC has improved in a post-iPad world with vastly different expectations for touch devices.

After spending almost a week with it, it stands as an awesome all-in-one Windows PC but the touch experience leaves a lot be desired. But it’s not all HP’s fault either.

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