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  • New Project: Contrast Mediaplayer

    Project Name: Contrast Mediaplayer
    Project Author: Contrast Solutions (www.contrastsolutions.net)

    Project Description: To provide the CarPC community with an interface for easy interaction through touchscreens and various other input types.

    Basic Idea: The interface would be a 3d "world" so to speak that would be rendered through OpenGL. Now you are probably thinking that the onboard video on your Mini-ITX wouldn't support 3d very well, but since there will be no more than like 1000 polygons drawn per frame I think that with proper optimizations for the VIA processor type this wouldn't be an issue.

    The interface would feature 3d objects with which the user would interact with. For instance take the playlist manager for example, this interface could be done via a 3d rotating cylinder much like a rolodex. Basically the song titles would rotate around a 3d cylinder as you scroll through the songs.

    Other aspects of the application where the 3d interface would be seen is via the menu transitions between menus or the various screens of the software. Buttons from menus could fly off into space while the next screen zoomed to the foreground of the users screen from the center of the window.

    There are many other places where 3d could be used, such as a metaball or a similar object for the visualization section of the player.


    Now whats probably going through your mind is, "wouldn't this be more distracting than a normal 2d interface?" And my answer to that is probably not because the default skin would be fairly minimalistic vs other players currently avalible. It wouldn't be any more distracting than your current player, and aslong as you don't drive the car while eating a burger and watching a movie then it wont be a problem really.

    So what I am asking from you guys is what are your ideas on such a project as this? What features would you like to see in it, any ideas for this?

    Also this project will NEVER be sold, so it will always be freeware/donationware so don't get the impression that I am trying to sell software I developed based off of your ideas. Hell if you sent me a donation I might not even accept it because this is my way to give back to the community I have come from.

    If you have any ideas or suggestions on this then feel free to share them. I will try to get some menu/screen designs up in the next day or so. But I may be limited on that as I start a new job Monday.

    Thanks,
    Philip Plante
    Programmer
    Contrast Solutions
    Philip Plante
    my projects:
    idgn.org | idgnonline.net | contrastsolutions.net

  • #2
    Good luck.
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    • #3
      Oh I meant to add this into the original post, but oh well.

      The 3d engine that would drive the application is already completed. This engine provides everything I would need from 2d gui to custom model/map formats. So really developments already underway
      Philip Plante
      my projects:
      idgn.org | idgnonline.net | contrastsolutions.net

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      • #4
        From what you describe this project sounds awesome. Can't wait for it to come out.
        Good luck.
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        • #5
          Sounds cool.
          AMD XP 2600+/512MB RAM/120GB hard drive
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          -GPSSecure- - GPS Tracking
          -AltTabber2.2.2- - Handy touchscreen utility.

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          • #6
            I would love to see some screenshots
            -Jesus- King of Kings Lord of Lords

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            • #7
              I have played with various 3d desktops, there are some linux projects and one that we did back at PARC years ago. We found that they were nowhere near as usable as a 2d desktop. 3d works in games, but seldom in UI's. Sun tried it too, and that didnt work out.

              I hope it works out, maybe its time to try this again, possibly the car is an environment where it can be made to work.

              The Epia M's graphics are well capable of handling this, in fact all modern 3d accelerated cards could cope with this. If they can do games even at low FPS then this kind of task is well within their reach.
              .//Daren
              (Epia M10000/C134) (C137/MII 10000) Liliput /Opus 150W/DVD/512MB/80GB/Hummer H1
              MediaCar/CoPilot7/Routis

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              • #8
                Thanks for the input all.

                I finished up the SoundCore this evening. I hope to begin work on the actual interface objects tomorrow or the day after, I just have to fix a few things with the engine framework before that will happen.

                I am using FMOD for sound right now, which is basically just my interface for DirectSound. My reasons for FMOD are because it already supports a few different sound drivers, and if I keep most of the code OS independent then I may end up using this thing on linux later, heck even Mac OSX would be able to run it with minimal changes.

                More updates to come. Next week I hope to have some preliminary screenshots and interface designs up.
                Philip Plante
                my projects:
                idgn.org | idgnonline.net | contrastsolutions.net

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                • #9
                  I am just in awe! great great great idea...and i would be more than happy to donate for being such a great community member
                  DICE Los Angeles
                  ]

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                  • #10
                    I worry about the usability of such a system in a car, but I'm eager to see a beta. Once I take a look at it I'll be able to tell.
                    A digital mind lost in an analog world.

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                    • #11
                      Just want to give you all an update on the status of this project.

                      Today I finished the core framework and began work on the actual interface by modifying the model format I've written to auto generate bounding boxes to use with object picking that will go in tomorrow. Once the object picking is complete the project will take another week before a simple media player demo is made availible.

                      So far the system supports any sound file that FMOD offers. A complete list is availible at: http://fmod.org/fmodfeatures.html#sece.

                      Since it uses a custom model format this requires the use of a special exporter for Milkshape 3d if you wish to model new buttons or objects for the interface. The skin system will then be used to specify what models belong to what interface object. And since the entire system will use a module api for expansion, the skinning system will also support the loading of custom designed interfaces for your module.

                      So for instance if you created a new playlist manager, you could use the skinning system to either integrate this with the media player or design your own interface. Its quite expansive actually.

                      Hopefully the interface is as simple to use as I hope it will be because I'd love to see this running in other peoples cars someday.

                      But enough rambling for now, I must sleep now for I have work in 6 hours.
                      Philip Plante
                      my projects:
                      idgn.org | idgnonline.net | contrastsolutions.net

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                      • #12
                        You sure plug your webhosting site enough

                        Let's see some screen shots.

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                        • #13
                          So... Three days now, any updates/screenshots?? I'm anxious to see this!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pplante
                            The interface would feature 3d objects with which the user would interact with
                            Although, I'm sure it will look real cool, you do not want to have any objects that the user has to interact with. If you really wanted to make a non-distracting interface you would find a way to have user's perform complex actions without them looking at the screen. i.e. instead of having a 3d ball covered with song names that you have to rotate until the song you want to play is visible you would simply have a horizontal motion made on the screen correspond to changing to another song and depending on the magnitude of the motion, you select a different song. This inturn coudl rotate the ball to the selected song, but would not effect which song was selected and therefore not require the user to look at the screen to use it.

                            I don't see how making a 3D interface could be anymore usable especially when when using a 2D input device (touch screen) to control it. One reason why 3D interfaces are sometimes thought to be better is because they offer a perspective that is closer to real life which user's have the most experience manipulating things in. However, by doing a 3D interface controlled by a 2D input space, you simply force the user's to learn not only how to use the 2D input device, but additionally how to use this input device in a 3D space which may not be a hard thing for you to grasp, but most certainly will not be a natural thing for most users.

                            The other reason for using 3D interfaces is to be able to display more information in a smaller space and give user's a visual que of how to access a particular function with less used functions in the background. This may work on a desktop where the number of functions that need to be performed are numerous and the primary task requires looking directly at the screen. However, in a car, where the visual resources are taken up by other critical functions, like driving, it certainly is not a good idea to add yet another visual axis to put things in that would require the user to study the screen for periods of time to find the proper interface. Rather the better way, in this case, is to require a more expert interface that requires the user to learn the layout and location of functions to use them and offer large touchable areas to navigate to them.
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                            • #15
                              I for one think this is a great idea, i live, breath and eat polygons
                              A 3D interface wont be any more dificult to interact with than a 2d interface and there really arent any features that make either one better to use than the other. 3D is just cooler looking. 3D has the possiblitly to be extremely harder for someone to use if done the wrong way, but so can 2D stuff. My only advice would be to not give the end user (not skin makers) control over the camera or direct object interaction other than selecting and everything should be cool.

                              What engine are you using, is this custom, if so what does it support and is milkdrop the only option for your exporter, would you consider making the exporter work with XSI or 3DSMax ? Or maybe another free or lowcost basic 3d package since not everyone would be able to get xsi or max to do skins.

                              Do you have a site up for this project yet?
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