Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Windows Embedded Hands-On Labs

On December 13th BEPS Engineering, in collaboration with Microsoft Innovation Center (Torino) and Windows Embedded EMEA Team, presented two Hands-On Labs on Windows Embedded technologies. They have been hosted in the new Microsoft Campus laboratories, located near Milan.

In the morning Beppe, Marco and I presented Windows Embedded Compact 7, the last version of Windows Embedded CE. The main objectives aimed to allow participants to work directly on configured and ready to use workstations, to practice with the help of trainers and take the possibility of repeating all the exercises on their own workstations at home.

In the afternoon, with the same formula, we have moved to Windows Embedded Standard 7, the packaged version of Windows 7.

The 18 participants were satisfied and, at the end of the day, there was some time for a Q&A session, that prompted the trainers to explore, in more details, the required arguments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Windows Embedded Roadmap

Yesterday Microsoft publicly released the roadmap for Windows Embedded vNext products.

During the past months, Microsoft worked on the foundation for an entirely new category within the traditional embedded market: intelligent systems. These are embedded devices that can extend enterprise software and cloud services out to everyday devices such as point of service (POS) terminals, in-car infotainment, medical equipment and even bar-top game machines.

With the company’s vision in place, Windows Embedded recently laid out details about how the company will deliver on its vision for intelligent systems over the next year.

Here are the main things announced:

  • Windows Embedded Enterprise vNext and Windows Embedded Standard vNext will be based on Windows 8.
  • Windows Embedded Standard vNext will be a customizable and componentized version of Windows 8. During the first quarter of 2012 a CTP for developers will be released and the final version will be released 3 quarters after Windows 8 general availability. In addition it is confirmed that Windows Embedded Standard vNext will support the ARM architecture.
  • Windows Embedded Enterprise vNext, full Windows product licensed for embedded OEMs, will be available a quarter after Windows 8 general availability .
  • In the second half of 2012 there will be a Windows Embedded Compact vNext, still based on the Windows Embedded CE core, with support for native application development in Visual Studio vNext.

For further information, have a look at the complete press release.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fleux .NETCF UI Library – KitchenPal contributions

It is now possible to download the modified version of the great Fleux project by José Gallardo Salazar, which I used for KitchenPal Metro-style interface. I added some custom UI controls (Tile, ApplicationBar, Textbox, Checkbox, Button, ImageButton, WrapPanel) and added general support for Windows CE 6.x/7.x devices, in addition to Windows Mobile. Maybe in the future these enhancements could be integrated in the main project. For now, download the source code from here and use it in your embedded projects! Let me know if you use it or find/fix any issues.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kinect SDK Beta 2

Today the new Kinect for Windows SDK Beta 2 has been released. It’s still for non-commercial use, waiting for the commercial SDK license which should be released at the beginning of the next year. For the event, the new official Microsoft Kinect SDK developer portal has been launched:  http://www.kinectforwindows.org/

Some of Beta 2 changes:

  • Faster  and Improved Skeletal Tracking

With updates to the multi-core exemplar, Kinect for Windows is now 20% faster than it was in the last release. Also, the accuracy rate of skeletal tracking and joint recognition and been substantially improved and it is possible to choose which device has to be used for skeletal trackin, when more than one Kinect is plugged to the machine.

  • Status Change Support and APIs

You can now plug and unplug your Kinect without losing work/productivity and computer crashes. Also it is possible to monitor Kinect status within your applications.

  • 64bits and Windows 8 Developer Preview support

Now drivers, SDK and Runtime support Windows 8 developer preview for desktop application, ant it is possible to build 64bits applications.

  • Sample applications updated

You can enter the ”Kinect Effect”, too. This is what people are doing now and/or will do with Kinect soon:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Windows 8 + Kinect SDK

Marina, the MSc Computer Engineering student I’m mentoring for her Master Degree thesis, is developing an Home-automation/communication Embedded system for elder/disabled people, leveraging Kinect SDK and Windows Embedded Standard 7.

After Microsoft BUILD event, we also decided to try Windows 8 Developer Preview with Metro Style app + Kinect. Actually we have some problems with WinRT/Kinect SDK compatibility: does anybody have any ideas or advices about that?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CatchTheDrop - Kinect SDK Game

CatchTheDrop logoSome weeks ago I presented the Kinect SDK at the BUILD Live in Turin community event.

In that occasion, with the help of Marina Sabetta, a MSc Computer Engineering student I’m mentoring for the Master Degree thesis, I demoed a simple single/two-players game, made with the Kinect SDK for Windows. The purpose of the game is to catch the falling drops as fast as possible: it has been programmed in WPF/C# and the game shows the basics of Kinect Skeleton tracking feature.

Project binaries and sources are now available on Codeplex: http://catchthedrop.codeplex.com.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

WPC 2011

WPC 2011

From 18 years, WPC represents for Italian IT Professionals a great training opportunity about Microsoft technologies. 2011 edition will take place on November 22-24 at Centro Congressi Milanofiori, Assago (MI).

WPC is for all IT professionals, developers, system-managers, IT consultants, managers:

  • 3 days
  • 6 tracks
  • more than 60 speakers
  • more than 90 sessions

Some topics:

  • Windows 8
  • Kinect SDK
  • HTML5
  • Windows Phone
  • SQL Server “Denali
  • Hyper-V
  • Lync

There will be also a special place where you can meet and talk with Microsoft MVPs.

For further information: www.wpc2011.it

You can follow the event also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs

The world will miss a great visionary, genius and innovator. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and to everyone who has been involved and changed by his work.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Microsoft Windows Embedded MVP 2011 Award

I am delighted to announce that I have been honored Microsoft Windows Embedded MVP.

The Microsoft MVP Program is a worldwide award and recognition program that strives to identify amazing individuals in technical communities around the globe who share a passion for technology and the spirit of community. To become an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) candidates are nominated by Microsoft or other community members: they are rigorously evaluated for their technical expertise, community leadership, and voluntary community contributions for the previous year. These individuals are chosen because they are exemplary community leaders who voluntarily share their passion and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.

Congratulations to the 143 new Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Awardees and 764 MVPs who were re-awarded this year. Especially, I want to congratulate with my colleagues Marco Bodoira and Beppe Platania who have been awarded Windows Embedded MVPs too!

I’m very happy.
Thank you to all involved Microsoft and non-Microsoft people who made this possible!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First look at Windows 8 on an embedded device

This morning my colleague Marco installed a copy of Windows 8 Developer Preview 32bit on his embeddedSPARK 2010 Summer contest device.

It’s performance are amazing!

Have a look at his post and watch this short demo video we recorded this morning:

First look at Windows 8 on an embedded Device

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Yesterday evening (European timezone), the Microsoft BUILD conference started and the new Windows 8 has been revealed.

Lots of details have already been shared and many more will be shared during conference technical sessions in the next days. If you’d like to have a first hands-on experience with the next version of Windows you can go there, to download the Windows Developer Preview:


This is a pre-beta version of Windows 8 for developers.

MSDN subscribers can also download a preview of the next version of Windows Server from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/default.aspx

More information here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Microsoft Kinect SDK Refresh

Kinect_thumb[5]The first public version of the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) beta was released on June 16, 2011. Since then, many developers and innovators started to experiment new natural user interface (NUI) leveraging the Kinect sensor. A few days ago a refreshed version of the SDK has been released: the community has provided Microsoft with a lot of good feedback, and this release addresses some of the top items.

The Kinect for Windows SDK beta is a non-commercial SDK which enables human motion tracking, voice recognition, and depth sensing on PCs, enabling developers to create innovative natural user interface applications. The SDK includes drivers and rich APIs for raw sensor streams and natural user interfaces, as well as installation documents and resource materials.

The refresh includes:

  • Driver enhancements: stability fixes to prevent crashes, including those that appear when a PC goes into sleep mode;
  • Runtime enhancements: refinements to a number of APIs, improvements in time-stamping, and the removal of non-functional APIs to alleviate confusion (they will be reinserted if and when the functionality becomes available in future releases);
  • Many improvements to the documentation, including clarifications and the deletion of information pertaining to non-functional components;
  • Enhanced SDK samples

If you’re an academic researcher or an enthusiast who wants to take advantage of the latest developments in natural user interface experimentation, you can download the Kinect for Windows SDK beta refresh. A new refresh of the Kinect for Windows SDK beta is planned for release later this year.

Currently I’m supervising a Computer Science Master Degree thesis project which will bring a Kinect NUI to a home-automation device for elder and disabled people, based on Windows Embedded Standard 7. Stay tuned for updates on the project!

Monday, July 25, 2011

BUILD Windows, Live in Turin

Mark this date on your calendar: Tuesday, September 13th! From 3.30 PM, in I3P (Polytechnic of Turin), BEPS Engineering  and TTG (Torino Technologies Group) will present some of the latest Microsoft technologies for Embedded devices.

Later, live from Anaheim (CA), Microsoft BUILD keynote will be live streamed: in 1995 Windows® changed the PC. BUILD will show you that Windows 8 changes everything.

Here’s the complete event agenda:

15.30 Registration

16.00 Welcome and presentations (Beppe Platania & Marco Russo)

16.30 Kinect applied to Embedded (Gianni Rosa Gallina)
How to use Kinect SDK with Windows Embedded Standard 7

17.15 Mango: the new Windows Phone 7 operating system (Alessio Galdi)
Mango new features, new SDK, application registration

18.00 Live from Anaheim Convention Center (California) we will watch BUILD keynote which will be full of great news about the future of Windows application development.

20.00 Discussions and social time

A gadget will be given to keynote attendees!

The event will be free, but a registration is required (for security reasons, seats are limited). To register:


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

embeddedSPARK 2011 Winners

I’ve  just come back from Seattle, where me and the other finalists had a wonderful week. First of all… the results!embeddedSPARK final event

Congratulations to everybody and special thanks to Microsoft (great organizational work by Gitte-Lena, aka Steel) and the judges, Olivier Bloch, Samuel Phung and Mike Hall, for the great experience we had!
It has been a cloudy and cold week (in respect to Italian weather in this season), but no rain and, in addition, a few days we had a warm and pleasant sun! We could visit Seattle and Microsoft Campus in Redmond all the way round, we met some Microsoft people and talked to them about Windows, Windows Embedded and the future. Great things will come, just have patience for some more months…

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

embeddedSPARK Challenge 2011 Finalist!

EmbeddedSpark2011_logoYesterday evening contest finalists have been announced. I’m very glad to be one of them: KitchenPal entered the final round! Many thanks to the people who helped me to obtain this result: Anna, Alice, Antony.

Congratulations to the other two finalists and… see you soon in Redmond, Seattle.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Working on Phone 7

While waiting for the EmbeddedSpark 2011 Challenge results, in the last two weeks I started working on two Windows Phone 7 applications, just to put in practice what I learned during the Windows Phone 7 workshops I attended last month. One will help you with car fuel management, while the other one is for Italian people who like playing SuperEnalotto lottery. Here some preview screenshots:

The applications will be available on Marketplace for free, soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

embeddedSPARK Challenge 2011 – Round 2

IMG_0536Here we are! Finally, after more than three months of hard work, KitchenPal prototype and its Mobile companion apps are ready.

You can see them at the official challenge entry page.

This time I made it. It's been hard but really fun and interesting. Results will come soon…

Windows Phone 7 Workshops

Microsoft Innovation Center Torino - ISMB organized in March and April a series of events dedicated to the new Windows Phone 7 platform. An introductory day to the platform at the beginning of March, two Hands-on-Lab days on March 22-23 and a Windows Phone 7 Proof-of-Concept on April 19-20.  All the events were conducted by two expert speakers from DevLeap, Luca Regnicoli and Katia Egiziano. I had the possibility to attend to all the events: very interesting and technically exceptional.

The last event was the most interesting one and consisted of a two-day instructor-led workshop aimed to create a real-world skeleton for a Windows Phone 7 app, with the help of Luca and Katia. Some companies participated at the event and proposed a couple of ideas/architectures to be implemented.

Katia assisted each of us with practical user interface design and suggested how/when to use Panorama and Pivot controls, how to create compelling, usable and good-looking views with Blend, marked the importance of Metro interface principles (typography, motion, content not chrome, honesty) and showed us sample UIs she made for ThinkAhead Phone 7 applications.

Luca, instead, helped with development issues, suggestions, practical problems and taught us the basics for a real-world, modular, loosely-coupled N-layered architecture: the key concept for successful applications!

Really interesting. If you have a chance to follow such kind of events, don’t miss them!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Embedded Sparks 2011 - First round winners

KitchenPal LogoEmbedded Sparks 2011 Challenge first round winners have been announced last week. I’m very happy that my KitchenPal idea is one of them also this year! I’ve already started to work on it in my spare time, I hope this year to be able to compete to the second round. Congratulations to all the other participants!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Windows Azure Proof-of-Concept

Windows Azure LogoAfter a three-day introductory workshop about the Windows Azure Platform organized by Microsoft at the end of 2010, last week I attended a Windows Azure Proof-of-Concept event at the Microsoft Innovation Center - ISMB here in Turin. It consisted of a two-day instructor-led workshop (speaker, Roberto Brunetti from DevLeap) aimed to create a complete solution from scratch with the purpose to highlight the nature and benefits of the Windows Azure platform.

Some companies participated at the event and proposed a couple of ideas/architectures which have been merged in a single, layered, multi-platform application with the help of Roberto:

  • a web site, hosted on Windows Azure (WebRole)
    • back-end based on Windows Azure Storage and/or a web service
  • a web service hosted on Windows Azure
    • back-end based on Windows Azure Storage
    • active collaboration with a WorkerRole service
  • a web service hosted on an on-premise IIS server
    • back-end based on Windows Azure Storage and/or a web service
    • active collaboration with a WorkerRole service on Windows Azure
  • a desktop / embedded client application, which works with cloud data and features
    • directly on Windows Azure (Storage / Queue / SQLAzure) and/or via a web service
  • n-tier architecture (data access, business logic, UI, services)
  • unit testing

Software architecture has been deeply analyzed (even tough it was a two-day workshop only) and the solution has been designed following the best practices and guidelines. The key concept was that adopting a good n-tier, modular, loosely-coupled and testable architecture, it is relatively easy to extend system functionalities or handle new technologies/platforms following the natural IT evolution.

Really interesting. If you have a chance to follow such kind of events, don’t miss them!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

embeddedSPARK 2011 Challenge

Microsoft organizes the third edition of its international hobbyist competition for Embedded enthusiasts. The embeddedSPARK 2011 Challenge challenges you to “Experience Embedded” and to share your experience with the rest of the world. Think new, or reinvent, the way people interact with embedded devices. Create an embedded solution that seamlessly connects with PCs, media, online content, and data. Use the tools and technologies provided by the upcoming Windows Embedded Compact 7 to you make your vision a reality through rich, animated device user interfaces and connected experiences to productivity applications and the world of Windows.

Also this year I proposed an idea: KitchenPal.

How do YOU experience embedded?

First round ends on January 30th. You still have some time to submit you 3-pages summary and get a chance to win:

  1. an Embedded device equipped with Windows Embedded Compact 7 (75 round-one winners)
  2. a trip to Microsoft (Redmond) for a Major Embedded Event in June (top 3 finalists)
  3. The 1st prize winner will receive a cash prize of $15,000; second prize winner will receive a cash prize of $5,000; third prize winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000.

Good luck!