Client projects are a part of the Interactive Multimedia program at Sheridan College. Here you’ll find information about our Microsoft Surface proof of concept project for Infusion Development.
Infusion Development initially started out as a technology training company and has grown since then to provide IT related services including consulting, development, training and mentoring. They were one of the first companies to be certified by Microsoft to develop Microsoft Surface applications.
What’s Microsoft Surface?
Microsoft Surface is the first commercially available surface-computing platform from Microsoft. It features a table like form factor with an interactive surface that can support multiple touches (up to 35) and features gesture recognition. For example, a palm on the table moving quickly up can trigger a different event in the application than a touch point with the same movement.
Surface aims to move beyond traditional user interface to a more natural way of interacting with information. It features four key attributes that developers need to take into account when creating Surface applications:
- Direct interaction – users can grab digital information with their hands without using a keyboard or mouse.
- Multi-touch – multiple points of contact can be recognized simultaneously.
- Multi-user – several people can gather around the application providing a collaborative face-to-face computing experience.
- Object recognition – users can place objects on the display to trigger responses from the Surface. This is accomplished through a domino tag, an RFID tag, or Bluetooth. In the feature digital content will also be able to be transferred.
See the Future Possibilities Surface Demo
As Infusion is a company strongly focused on entrepreneurship, applications they create for Microsoft Surface are revenue oriented. They have created Surface solutions for many of the world’s largest organizations in the tourism, entertainment, financial services, and government sectors. Keeping in line with the entrepreneurial focus, our Infusion point person – Kayla Spiess – introduced a project aimed at the hypothetical client Royal Caribbean International (RCI) with the intention of developing a Surface application that would attract cruise goers to choose RCI over their competitors.
We were told that apart from the promotional aspect of attracting more guests, RCI was looking for a nice, unique, cutting edge application that features a highly intuitive user interface that used at least some of the four key attributes of Microsoft Surface. For the purposes of this project, we were told that there were no budget limits and that RCI ships could have one or many Surface devices present.
Royal Caribbean International
In order to plan for an application that would suit the needs of the client, we researched RCI thoroughly, comparing them to their main competitor Carnival Cruises. With Carnival holding 44% of the market share and RCI at second place with 22% market share, we knew that in order for this application to succeed as a promotional item, we had to focus in on more than the entertainment aspects it could provide as RCI already has a lot of entertainment shipboard.
RCI provides entertainment and unique attractions not found on other cruise lines such as their Ice Skating Rink and FlowRider surf pool. They have show production rivaling those found in Las Vegas, and have some of the largest ships in the industry with guest capacities of 3500-4000 for their Voyager and Freedom class ships. With all that there is to do on an RCI cruise, we believed the best way to approach the project was to provide an application that allows cruise goers to fully take advantage of all that RCI has to offer.
After much research and discussion, we decided that we would present Kayla with two projects: An RCI Virtual Concierge and an RCI Community.
RCI Virtual Concierge
To create a virtual concierge that would be similar to the services a purser’s desk provides on cruise ships, with the additional services of a ship directory and custom itinerary creation.
The key feature of the virtual concierge system is to offer convenience for RCI cruise guests, allowing them to enjoy their cruise as the relaxing vacation it is intended to be. As ships become larger and offer more activities, recreational facilities, and programs, guests should feel that taking advantage of all the ship has to offer is simple and not at all frustrating. By providing a virtual concierge system that helps with reservations, ship navigation, and itinerary creation, RCI can assure their guests that their stay will be the smooth, fun and relaxing experience they intended it to be.
- Reservations – Guests would be able to search for shipboard services/activities or upcoming land excursions and book or purchase them right on the Surface.
- Directions – Guest would be able to search for ship activities or locations and be given directions on how to get there.
- Custom Itineraries – Guests would be able to create their own custom itinerary by dragging and dropping items from the general itinerary and also by having purchased excursions appear as itinerary items.
To integrate an online RCI Community with a shipboard bulletin board system so that RCI guests can meet, mingle, and continue friendships post-cruise.
The RCI Community would help promote ongoing brand loyalty and further promote RCI’s feel of the “Nation of Why Not” community. By promoting how easy it is to find activity partners and set up group events, RCI could reassure its guests that there’s always someone with whom to enjoy all that RCI ships have to offer.
- Bulletin Board System (BBS)- A shipboard BBS that allows RCI guests to find activity partners and create group events.
- RCI Community Online Site – A Facebook like online community site for RCI cruise guests or future guests that allows users to post reviews of cruises, set up activity interests, and allow guests to load activity preferences onto their cruise card if they have an upcoming cruise.
Once we presented both proposals to Kayla, she decided on the Virtual Concierge with the addition of the BBS from the RCI Community proposal. In the following posts you can read more about the challenges we faced when creating the Virtual Concierge application in Flash and how we managed to have it look and feel like a Microsoft Surface application.