Deep dive into the NUIverse


When David Brown comes to town you know you're in for a treat. He is a recognized leader in Surface application design and development, going back to the early days of Microsoft Surface 1.0. His latest project "NUIverse," a whimsical play on words inviting people to explore the universe through natural user interface (NUI), is an amazing example of the kind of applications that can only be fully realized on the Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface.

Last month David shared his time with us to demonstrate his NUIverse project, updated for the Microsoft Surface 2.0 platform. It's hard to convey in a blog video just how visually stunning this application looks, but even more amazing is how easy he makes it to control the complexity of the Solar System and night sky. Everytime we check-in with David the NUIverse gains new features and interaction refinements -- far too many to show at once. This application is a must have for any outer space enthusiast.

Be sure to check out our video deep dive into the NUIverse on the Surface YouTube Channel. To learn more about NUIverse, and David Brown's past Surface projects, please checkout his blog at


Comments (7)

  1. Amazing! This is probably my favorite Surface application!

  2. Nice work! Why did you decide to go for the tag solution rather than a layered UI option, that would work in the same way? I like the visual impact the tags give, but the solution seems almost retro tech.

    Are the tags locked to their function or are they just identified as "tag#" which the OS has configured for "planetary data#1", so that is what is displayed when "tag#" is on the screen. Will we need to have a stack of marked up special tags or will any tag do, and we just configure it with the information we want it to show at the moment?

  3. Dr Dave says:

    Thanks 🙂

    The use of Surface tags provides a unique option to add, move (including rotate), and remove "controls" without any additional chrome…just add a tag, move it about, and remove it when done.

    The use of these physical objects may be more intuitive and "natural" to some users, and the ability to easily position these controls on a multi-user, multi-directional Surface UI is important. Moving transparent tags around by grasping the outside of the object without obscuring the UI beneath is particularly important for the "eyepiece" tags, for example.

    The tags themselves are effectively just numbers, and are configured such that an arbitrary range of tag values gives a "type" of behavior (in this case, either a "compass" or "eyepiece"). The values are specified in a configuration file so can be easily changed.

  4. Dave — really nice work on this app.  I personally have always been a big fan of the tags-as-dials/menus concept in surface dev even back in the 1.0 days.  And the transparent tags work especially well in this scenario.

  5. Mayur says:

    Hello Dave,

    I hv seen the entire vedio on your website its pretty cool also it is made in XNA right???

    Is there any source where i can get help on camera orbit and zoom in XNA if it can then please provide me some source

  6. Mikey says:

    When the concept of the VD first arose in NYC the field had only one criteria in mind. The Samsung and Microsoft platform is much less of an investment portfolio and proprietary document rich environment. Still, most of the desktop applications are as likely to be aimed at pirating from district court appeals as it was in "the early days," Hie? Albeitso the first concepts were on SGI machines (adapted from E&S desksides), what is Microsoft technology, today, anyway. Why has this group of business actors never been donned the Broadway appeal of near equivalent and closely related members only groups? Something just doesn't stick right in this specialized arena.

  7. Hithredin says:


    I'd love Microsoft to release freely such an app to show our client what's possible to do on surface. The available apps are far from being sexy.

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