Microsoft today revealed information about sensor support that the company plans to integrate into the Windows 8 operating system. Before we start, I’d like to point out shortly that sensors are not a new feature, as they have been integrated into Windows 7 as well. You can check out Windows 7 Sensors explained for an overview of what sensors were about in Windows 7.
Sensor support in Windows 7 however goes beyond that, which makes it an interesting feature again. That’s likely the main reason why Microsoft has put the adaptive brightness feature at the very top of the article. Adaptive brightness was included in Windows 7, but limited due to the quality of available display panels.
A sensor basically adjusts the brightness of the screen based on ambient light conditions. the right screen shows a tablet with adaptive brightness enabled, the right screen one with the feature disabled.
Windows 8 supports automatic screen roation, another new feature that tablet and mobile users will benefit from mostly. When a user rotates the device, the screen will automatically rotate with the user.
Data from an accelerometer allows the device to determine its basic orientation. By automatically rotating the screen, people can use their devices (primarily slates and convertibles) in a more natural and intuitive way, without needing to manually rotate the screen with software controls or hardware buttons.
One of the interesting new concepts that Microsoft integrates into Windows 8 is Sensor Fusion, which combines the strengths of multiple sensors to overcome weaknesses of individual sensors. Microsoft demonstrates the concept in the second part of the video below.
The remaining parts of the article are all aimed at developers, and how they can use sensors in their applications. Microsoft has created a sensor API that developers can use as part of the new WinRT.
Through these APIs, developers can access the power of sensor fusion from any Metro style app. These APIs are clean and simple, and at the same time give developers access to the data needed to support everything from casual games to virtual reality applications. Of course these capabilities are all available as Win32 APIs for game developers or other uses in desktop applications.
What is your take on sensor support in Windows 8?