Silverlight animations back Microsoft RFID network

 

Microsoft is developing cutting-edge motion design visuals in Silverlight for its RFID network at Tech Ed 2008 in Sydney.

The company is working with games developers, animators and cinematographers to achieve natural motion control of avatars that will be displayed on-screen in each room of the conference.

The avatars will be triggered by a passive RFID tag placed behind delegates’ lanyards.

As people enter, they will be able to see their avatar move across the screen and disappear into the distance of the theatre.

The animation will enable users to see the ‘cause-and-effect’ of their actions – as well as provide a few surprises, according to Microsoft Australia user experience (UX) evangelist, Shane Morris.

“Animators and game designers have a good idea of natural motion, but for UX designers this is a real challenge,” Morris told iTnews.

“We have to learn how to use that motion effectively. Motion is a really powerful tool we can use as designers, but the real art is using it judiciously by finding the appropriate amount of real-world physics and applying them on the screen.

“Silverlight, Expression Studio and the Windows Presentation Foundation really throw this challenge out to designers,” he said.

The use of Silverlight 2 beta two in the RFID system signals a shift in the way Silverlight is being used, according to Morris.

“Silverlight 1 was all about play-pause-stop video experiences, whereas Silverlight 2 is about representing and surfacing complex data,” explained Morris.

“Silverlight 2 provides opportunities to display rich data in deep and meaningful ways. It really comes into its own by providing a way to collapse and coalesce the amount of data collected by RFID quickly and in different ways.”

One of the challenges for the project has been balancing the desire for motion detection with on-screen real estate constraints. The screens will also be displaying sponsor logos and a breakdown of attendees in each room by job title, in addition to the motion-controlled avatars.

Morris promised that attentive delegates will be able to spot ‘easter eggs’ that are currently being incorporated into the system.

The lack of individual information captured by the tags will make it difficult for delegates to customise their avatars, but Morris did not rule out the option.

“We have to see what we can pull off in the next few weeks,” said Morris.

Co-creator of the RFID network and collaboration and integration specialist at Breeze Consulting, Mick Badran, said that Microsoft is ‘beautifying’ the front end with the Silverlight visualisations.

“We put the system together in a month,” Badran told iTnews. “The rest of the work is in what information do you want to surface, and how to surface it [sic].”

Silverlight animations back Microsoft RFID network
 
 
 
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