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NUITEQ's early Christmas gift to the world - Snowflake Suite 1.9.3 released

NUITEQ's Snowflake Suite 1.9.3 is out now and shows how something can be hot and cool at the same time.

Image: Screenshot of the wide range of applications that come with Snowflake 1.9.3, that are suitable for different usage scenarios such as entertainment, education, exhibitions, presentations and others.

I'll comment below on several of the changes in 1.9.3:

* Added Windows 7 WM_TOUCH events support to TouchCore
* Added support for automatic switch between Snowflake and mouse driver (TouchCore)
The above two features were often requested by our clients and partners, to improve the total experience of their rear camera based multi-touch tables, bars and walls.

* Added mouse support in Windows 7 version (press 'M' on keyboard)
Until recently, you needed a touch screen connected to your pc, in order to experience Snowflake. We received many requests from people that didn't have a touch screen connected to their pc, but still wanted to try out Snowflake. So we included this feature, to support them.

* Changed the corner menus to toggle mode
After extensive field testing of Snowflake in public spaces by NUITEQ and after indexing feedback from clients and partners, we concluded that there was still space for improvement on the interaction design level.

We want to introduce and educate new ways of interacting with touch screens, however there is still a steep learning curve when it comes to this topic, as people for years have learned the typical WIMP-based interaction with computer systems.

So for example, previously in order to use the corner menus in Snowflake, you had to hold, drag and release your finger to select a task. However this way of interacting was not evident to people that are new to touchscreen interaction, because of the fact that they are used to the WIMP-based interaction.

Of course, after you demonstrate the "hold, drag and release", people easily grasp it and are able to easily reproduce this task, however we want to strive for interaction with touchscreens, that do not require any instructions (from people on the side or on screen) and are therefore as intuitive as possible.

Therefore we have now supported 3 different ways of interaction with the corner menu, so regardless of how they interact with it, they are able to execute their task.

- hold, drag and finger up (1 finger)
- hold and select with another finger (2 fingers)
- tap and select (1 finger)

* Improved interaction in 3D Viewer
Based on our field test research results, we concluded that people are not yet so familiar with interactions such as press and hold. Therefore we replaced that action with a simple tap, in order to select objects in the 3D Viewer.

* Improved PDF Viewer interaction (zoom gesture instead of double tap)
Having mentioned the above in regards to WIMP-interaction, it is interesting to see that not in all cases people expect Windows alike interaction, but actually expect the "new" gesture based interaction to execute a specific task.

So for example in a typical Windows environment, you maximize a window by double tapping it. We thought that this typical action would also translate to our PDF Viewer application, where a person can double tap a PDF to maximize it. However during our field testing, we concluded that people hardly use the double tap action, but rather try the zooming gesture in order to try and maximize the PDF.

Therefore based on our field test results, we have improved this in Snowflake accordingly.

* Improved support for portrait mode
In the digital signage market, displays are often used in vertical setups. As multi-touch technology will find massive adoption in the interactive digital signage market and since several of our partners are active in this industry, we have integrated support for portrait mode.

Other changes to Snowflake 1.9.3 include:

* Reduced Map loading time
* Added new 3D models for retail usage scenarios
* Added new graphics to Tap
* Fixed a crash issue when audio drivers haven't been installed
* Improved the loading time for unicode fonts
* Improved Configuration Editor
* General bug fixes and improvements

For a complete list of all the improvements that we have made to Snowflake in over 2 years, check out the Change log history on our Support Wiki here.

You can download a free evaluation version of Snowflake Suite 1.9.3 here. Check it out and let us know what you think. Your feedback is important to us, in order for us to improve the product and offer you and your clients a better experience.

Want to avoid losing your top 3 customers to your competition? Want to increase customer loyalty? Are you exploring to increase your company's sales? Let us know and we'll explain how we can help to solve these problems for you.

In addition to our off the shelf multi-touch software product Snowflake Suite, we customize multi-touch software solutions to fit companies' their exact needs.

Please support NUITEQ and Snowflake, by nominating us in the category Best Touch Interface for the Crunchies 2010.

Your support is much appreciated.