Zune HD as a programming/teaching platform?

The idea of games that use accelerometers strikes me as particularly interesting an several levels. The most obvious is for creating games of course. But looking deeper I like the idea that one could teach things with the right software. Things around physics and math for example. I need to spend some deep brainstorming on the idea because until now (short of some hardware hacking with Wii controllers) I didn’t have a good tool for it. I’ve also been interested in touch interfaces because of things like the Microsoft Surface and multi-touch in Windows 7 and other things but haven’t had the right hardware for trying that out either.

It looks like that changes with yesterday's announcements around the new Zune HD. Besides being a great MP3 player with a lot of cool features there is new software for programming the devices.

The XNA team has released a set of XNA Game Studio 3.1 Zune Extensions which are discussed in more detail at the XNA Forums and the XNA blog. The teaser bits are:

This add-on for XNA Game Studio 3.1 adds the following functionality to the product:

· The ability to target and develop for the Zune HD media player.

· The addition of new Touch APIs to the XNA Framework for use on the Zune HD.

· The addition of new Accelerometer APIs to the XNA Framework for use on the Zune HD.

I’m told that most code written for previous Zune devices should port over pretty easily BTW. Dan Waters who is the Zune guy for me (he literally wrote the book on developing games for Zune using XNA) is getting a Zune HD this week so I’m going to look and see where he takes things since I’m not getting mine for a little while yet. Are you getting one? Are you thinking about creating games for it? What would you like to do with the touch and accelerometer APIs?

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