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MultiPoint: What. How. Why.

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What happens when you attach more than one mouse to a single computer? You share a single cursor, of course. Well, not if you have the new MultiPoint technology announced today

Here, we dig into what MultiPoint is, how it works and why we created this new technology with some of the folks behind it: Sherri Bealkowski, General Manager, Ravi Soin, Product Unit Manager and Jed Rose, Product Manager.

MultiPoint will have a tremendous impact on education and developers will be able to create innovative applications using MultiPoint technology starting in January with the release of the MultiPoint SDK (Alpha). The potential of this new technology is huge.

Tune in and learn about this exciting new technology created by Microsoft Research. For all the Imagineers out there, check this out:
http://imaginecup.com/multipoint/default.aspx

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  • A1C Stephen Collinsvbrunner__ code monkey
    i think everyone that has used a computer has thought "what would it be like to have multiple mice?"  but i know at least for me i threw the idea out thinking people would trample of each other.  but i never thought of the games they demoed(sp?).

    great technology.  it's just surprising that no one has done this before. (or have they?)
  • @vbrunner_ : actually there's MPX (link) (wikipedia)

    I was wondering if there was such technology for windows myself since my colleages got quite interested.

    Time to watch the video now Smiley
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    As stated in the video, MultiPoint supports much more than just mice (thus not being named MultiMouse) Smiley

    This is great stuff. I am very much looking forward to the alpha SDK release.

    C
  • eddwoeddwo Wheres my head at?

    I seem to remember that on the Windows98 disc, or some other disc that came with my PC of that era there was a demo movie for the Microsoft EasyBall mouse.

    It was designed for small children and the physically impared to use and I'm pretty sure the demo showed how a parent and child could both have mice attached a PC at once and play little games together one one screen. The parent would use a traditional mouse while the child used the EasyBall. 
    Perhaps it only worked in a few specific programs that came with that hardware device.

    If this new Multipoint stuff works with Touch-Screens as well it might be cool to create virtual mixing desks / DJ interfaces.

  • LaBombaLaBomba Summer
    Definitely something that can have a very broad application, this is a great idea as an education tool..I wonder if BillG knows of this, he's big on the role of technology in education. 

    He'll see it eventually I imagine (no pun intended) Tongue OutWink
  • rhmrhm
    vbrunner__ wrote:
    i think everyone that has used a computer has thought "what would it be like to have multiple mice?"  but i know at least for me i threw the idea out thinking people would trample of each other.  but i never thought of the games they demoed(sp?).

    great technology.  it's just surprising that no one has done this before. (or have they?)


    I've thought about it quite a bit. While most geeks try and control everything with the keyboard and ignore the mouse as much as possible, I'm the opposite - I like to use the mouse as much a possible.

    So just think how much more productive I'd be if I could use two mice at once! Especially in those mission-critical Windows apps: Solitaire and Minesweeper.
  • It looks like very exciting technology.  I enjoyed the video and look forward to the SDK in January!

    Three questions:

    1. Is it easy to create an "admin" mouse?  I could very likely want to restrict certain forms, or even controls only to one mouse (probably the teacher's).  That way only the teacher can start/stop an activity, while the students can only interact with the relevant options.
    2. As a red-green color-blind male, I wonder if there are other ways of decorating pointers to better differentiate them.  Perhaps styles of glowing, or even completely different pointer icons.  This could be an important feature to consider.
    3. For non Multipoint-enabled applications, do the multiple mice function as on any other system?  In other words, if I don't specifically code for Multipoint, do all mice conflict with each other?

    Thanks for the video, and good luck getting to the next step!

  • It would be great to see this technology applied to touch screen interfaces.

  • This is quite interesting and gives some ideas to take this on..
    For eg.. Typically it is a major problem for the centralised IT groups to manage the desktops in their various branches.. Currently due to the way things are done, each person at the branch gets a pc with a lot more capacity than what is needed to run their operations.. Most of the business apps reside on servers and very few apps are installed on the desktops themselves..

    With the multipoint, the investment really comes down to a smaller number of pc's handling more users each with a monitor & a mouse..
    This could also spawn off a business pc category.. Today the business pc is the same as a home pc whereas with multipoint, the business pc could have a different config but with more support for input devices.. So the pc vendors need not worry..

    Now... when is the sdk becoming accessible to microsoft customers ? Big Smile
  • PeterFPeterF Aragon IT
    osigurdson wrote:
    

    It would be great to see this technology applied to touch screen interfaces.



    I would think that's the only logical next step. At the moment touchscreens don't allow you to rotate objects based on two points. I look forward seeing this result into a common API for both application developers as well as hardware manufacturers/driver developers.
  • FlatlinerFlatliner With our thoughts we make the world.
    Ok, so obvious next question is does this support multiple keyboard input? Because one of the biggest area's I see multi-input being useful is for single desktop collaboration in development and documentation. Quite often when myself and a fellow developer are working on a single piece of code, at the same time, we'd each like to have our own cursor, him correcting my mistakes as I continue on.
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Flatliner wrote:
    Ok, so obvious next question is does this support multiple keyboard input? Because one of the biggest area's I see multi-input being useful is for single desktop collaboration in development and documentation. Quite often when myself and a fellow developer are working on a single piece of code, at the same time, we'd each like to have our own cursor, him correcting my mistakes as I continue on.
    .

    Yes. Keyboards are supported input devices. One among many.
    C
  • caffeineHicaffeineHi Trevor Lowing
    Noteboks and laptops have become a big chunk of the PC market and most already have multiple pointing devices. Sure would be nice to have the mouse in one hand and the touchpad in the other controlling different cursors. Is this backward compatible? I already have a new paptop and a rather expensive Logitech mouse. Will this work for MS devices only?
  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    caffeineHi wrote:
    Noteboks and laptops have become a big chunk of the PC market and most already have multiple pointing devices. Sure would be nice to have the mouse in one hand and the touchpad in the other controlling different cursors. Is this backward compatible? I already have a new paptop and a rather expensive Logitech mouse. Will this work for MS devices only?


    This technology, which is software-based, will work on Windows (will be .NET 3.0 based on release). In the video, they demonstrate the MP technology applied to a game where both a USB and touchpad mouse are used simultaneously (each with it's own cursor)...
    C



  • sorry but I am quite new to this forum. I am a bit confused on the people I need to ask question to regarding my problem.

    Hope you can help me out.

    thanks
  • HarlequinHarlequin http:/​/​twitter.​com/True​Harlequin
    janverge wrote:
    sorry but I am quite new to this forum. I am a bit confused on the people I need to ask question to regarding my problem.

    Hope you can help me out.

    thanks


    Go up to the menu and choose Forums > Techoff, if it's a tech question. Otherwise head to the Coffeehouse if it's not technical.
  • How long before we see a demo?
  • atkulp wrote:
    

    It looks like very exciting technology.  I enjoyed the video and look forward to the SDK in January!

    Three questions:

    1. Is it easy to create an "admin" mouse?  I could very likely want to restrict certain forms, or even controls only to one mouse (probably the teacher's).  That way only the teacher can start/stop an activity, while the students can only interact with the relevant options.
    2. As a red-green color-blind male, I wonder if there are other ways of decorating pointers to better differentiate them.  Perhaps styles of glowing, or even completely different pointer icons.  This could be an important feature to consider.
    3. For non Multipoint-enabled applications, do the multiple mice function as on any other system?  In other words, if I don't specifically code for Multipoint, do all mice conflict with each other?

    Thanks for the video, and good luck getting to the next step!



    I think some of these questions are answered in the video, albeit not explicitly.

    1. It's definately possible to restrict within your application who controls what. You simple designate a certain cursor as "admin", and only respond to their events on certain controls. As to allowing only the admin control over the entire system depends on how standard apps respond to the multiple cursors.

    2. They make many refrences to changing the icons, so I'm sure you can decorate the cursors.

    3. It seems that they all just conflict with each other, which can be seen when he quits the demo. I'm sure there are probably ways to only allow one device to control the main cursor though.

    This looks very exciting. I think I may actualy show my mother this one, she'll be interested.
  • Very nice, I would like to get a hold it.

    Could use.


  • Carl FranklinCarl Franklin Carl Franklin

    Hey, this is a great idea. I wish I'd thought of it first.
    [A]

  • CharlesCharles Welcome Change
    Carl Franklin wrote:
    

    Hey, this is a great idea. I wish I'd thought of it first.



    Well, MultiPoint (MSR India) needed to develop a way to make it possible to program multiple cursors from a single application. The hard part here is not making the system aware of multiple inputs, but rather enabling a higher level abstraction to expose multiple input events to application writers who are not driver developers. MultiPoint delivers this ease of use API. The alpha is due out in January. They'll need your feedback so please play with it.

    Nice idea, though, Carl. Thing is, you were asking the wrong folks to deliver it to you Wink

    C
  • geekrajageekraja GeekRaja
    hmm.. isnt it a multiplayer game concept that already exist in video games? i really like  the idea multipoint, but i dont think i should restrict just to schools, how abt meeting/conference halls? i really wished a mouse pointer in my hands when i wanted to ask questions, raise suggestions etc... will be good business tool as well... Cool
  • Since PowerPoint has been one of the most powerful education or training tools, it would be even more powerful to include MultiPoint feature to allow, say, dozen of trainees each has a wireless mouse at hand, and while instructor teaching over the slides on PowerPoint or other graph, circuit, maps ...etc. If PowerPoint Product Manager is reading this, s/he should agree with this, and, who knows, may be they already have a project on adding this feature to their next version of PowerPoint. Not sure how it could be implemented, but imagine at a hotel conference of 500 trainees on a typical Microsoft techenical conference like the one at Hilton Parsippany NJ I attended a while ago, if the trainee would like to ask question about items on the slide, it would be much easier if the trainee can also have a wireless "mouse" to point to the enlarged slide on the screen, e.g. pointing to the codes. So, the devices should be just "pointing device", NOT just "mouse" which is obviously one kind of pointing devices. If that guess is correct, as per the name "MultiPoint", then it would be even better to have "pen like" pointing device. That way, each attendee of conference will be given a "multipoint pen", and not only can then point to the big screen slide but also WRITE ON IT just like the instructor normally would point on certain part of the slide, and circle, or write some extra words to make it more clear... So, the pen should be "wireless" to communicate to a receiver that hook up to the USB to connect to MultiPoint on PowerPoint slide, and the instructor would choose which "pen" to be activated to be able to have a pointing cursor on the screen and "writable or not". So, you will have option to be "pointing only", "writable", "point and click only" ...etc.
  • So, if my kids each buy a game controllers of their Nitendo games, they should be able to use this MultiPoint on a similar game running on PC. (will that kill Xbox?) Again, the "pointing device" may be expand to "game controller". Many Internet games seems to be more fun for a groups of kids to play, say, at birthday party, with multiple controllers... That is to say, no need to have extra game box like Nintendo, Sony or Xbox ...
  • When I was trying to get ClearCase work in Lucent many years ago, we got a team of 3 people plus IBM system admins (since Lucent's SA outsourced to IBM and you need the password to do things, but IBM would not give you, they had to be there). So we have 7 people at one time staring on the computer screen to do the work ... and people in and out, at certain stage, needed people pop in ... So, for software development or system integration, it would be great to have pointing devices in each person's hand to be able to make discussion much easier ...
  • Much better.

    So much for the $100 Laptop stunt.
  • Doesn't anyone remeber the research done at xerox parc, on two controller UI, implementations. ?  At least early 90's if not 80's.

    Ie 1 person using 2 mice, co-operatively, rather like one would use a knife and a fork for eating.

    That was obviously a clever user mode application, of this concept, but they would have written the subsystem themselves first too.






  • When /  Where can we download the Multipoint SDK? I still have not seen it anywhere.

    Thanks!
    CS
  • great for pair programming
  • Now i'ts soon 2008 - shall we wait another two years (win 7) before it is possible to have to mouse pointers to windows? or do anyone know a 3nd part product to solve to problem?

    I would be happy just to have two mouse pointers, no need for my app. to distinct between the mice, as long as they got there own pointer.

    Happy new year.

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