The EXOdesk is a first of its kind multi touch desk running the Microsoft Surface software. We had some hands on time with the EXOdesk hardware during Confoo 2012 at the Make Web Not War Dojo and here is our take.
The smartphone market has taught us that hardware consoles can live or die by the software and app development community. Apps for the EXOdesk are developed in an HTML5 environment and EXOPC has shown some serious commitment to engaging the development community. If you are a developer be sure to check out the EXOdesk app development contest running until May 1st, 2012. The first prize is a 32 inch EXOdesk console!
Our favorite app on the EXOdesk was the piano application. After launching the piano app out of the toolbar, the piano elegantly slides out – ready to use. We had a piano player in the crowd who tried it out and was able to quite naturally play a song on the interface. There is also a handy chalkboard app that was used to demonstrate the 40 points of touch on this particular EXOdesk. We had two people drag their fingers across the chalkboard simultaneously and the points of touch were tracked perfectly.
One of the coolest features of the EXOdesk set up at Confoo was the live debug mode. With this mode turned on, the EXOdesk would output the HTML5 source of any app it was running to an external monitor. As the user interacts with the app, the code would update live. This is a really handy feature for developers to test and debug their apps. Also, in debug mode all the points of touch would light up with corresponding coordinates and vectors.
The EXOdesk can also be used as a workspace to support a Windows PC. For example web bookmarks can be launched from EXOdesk but displayed on a standard monitor. Of course there are also a number of keyboard skins including a pretty nifty retro typewriter skin.
The EXOdesk looks like a powerful workspace productivity tool. Having apps developed in an HTML5 environment is the right choice. With the support of the development community the possibilities for compelling apps on this platform are very promising.