Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Windows 7 Sensor API Targets Embedded Hardware

Microsoft has released the new Sensor API in Windows 7 to access data from external devices. The new API will still require development of a custom device driver for your hardware, but aims to reduce the complexity of applications that need to access the data. There are a number of examples applications available . Some are in the Windows 7 WDK, others are online like this one on MSDN for a motion sensor. It includes source and even firmware for a BASIC stamp microcontroller. You can build the project yourself with a Parallax passive-infrared sensor and HomeWork Board. One nice feature of the API is that it allows for virtual sensors. These can be used to develop and test apps without connecting the sensor to the PC. This can be very useful when you have seperate teams developing the Windows applications and the embedded hardware. If you have a well defined interface you should be able to switch from the virtual sensor to the final hardware without rewriting a lot of code.