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Daniel Wigdor: A Symphony of Devices. A talk at Microsoft Research

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Published on Sep 26, 2014

That the era of ubiquitous computing is beginning cannot be disputed. Desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets are pervasive and commonplace. To date, development has been largely differentiated by platform; iOS and Android for phones and tablets, and OSX and Windows for desktops and laptops. Past efforts to overcome this have concentrated on providing a ‘write once, run everywhere’ replication of experiences across form factors. These efforts have, in some sense, missed the point: the opportunity is not simply to provide a replicated experience, but rather to enable applications to easily span form factors.

We address this gap with ongoing research termed the Symphony of Devices. The Symphony creates different, topology-appropriate experiences as the number of screens and devices grows and shrinks, and as nearby displays and input devices are annexed. The Netflix of the future is not one that can simply play the same movie on multiple devices, but one where any device can serve as a remote control and feature a supplementary information display for the screen showing the film. The calendar application of the future will allow a user to browse a single calendar, and then add another user’s device to easily view overlapping availability.

In this talk, Daniel will present work from his team on field studies of existing multi-device workflows, user experiences (1, 2), and, most critically, developer tools which allow the automatic reallocation of application functionality across available devices.

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