Boxing Glove (Accelerometer Basics)

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Boxing Glove is an app for people who feel like being immature (or people who simply are immature). With it, you can throw punches into the air and hear a variety of punching/groaning sound effects. The punching sound effects occur right when you hit your imaginary target.

Boxing Glove supports right- or left-handed punching, and has a few entertaining features, such as a button that makes a “ding ding ding” bell sound as if to signify the start of a fight.

To provide the effect of making a punching sound at the appropriate time, this app uses the phone’s accelerometer.

The Accelerometer

Several times a second, the phone’s accelerometer reports the direction and magnitude of the total force being applied to the phone. This force is expressed with three values—X, Y, and Z—where X is horizontal, Y is vertical, and Z is perpendicular to the screen. This is illustrated in Figure 44.1.

The three accelerometer dimensions, relative to the phone screen.
FIGURE 44.1 The three accelerometer dimensions, relative to the phone screen.

The magnitude of each value is a multiplier of g (the gravitational force on the surface of Earth). Each value is restricted to a range from -2 to 2. If the phone is resting flat on a table with the screen up, the values reported for X and Y are roughly zero, and the value of Z is roughly -1 (1 g into the screen toward the ground). That’s because the only force being applied to the phone in this situation is gravity. By shifting the phone’s angle and orientation and then keeping it roughly still, the values of X, Y, and Z reveal which way is down in the real world thanks to the ever-present force of gravity. When you abruptly move or shake the phone, the X, Y, and Z values are able to reveal this activity as well.

Regardless of how you contort your phone, the X,Y, and Z axes used for the accelerometer data remain fixed to the phone. For example, the Y axis always points toward the top edge of the phone.

To get the accelerometer data, you create an instance of the Accelerometer class from the Microsoft.Devices.Sensors namespace in the Microsoft.Devices.Sensors assembly.

This assembly is not referenced by Windows Phone projects by default, so you must add it via the Add Reference dialog in Visual Studio.

The Accelerometer class exposes Start and Stop methods and—most importantly— a ReadingChanged event. This event gets raised many times a second (after Start is called) and reports the data via properties on the event-args parameter passed to handlers. These properties are X, Y, Z, and Timestamp. The physical accelerometer is always running; Start and Stop simply start/stop the data reporting to your app.

Sounds pretty simple, right? The class is indeed simple although, as you’ll see in the remaining chapters, interpreting the data in a satisfactory way can be complicated.

To get the best performance and battery life, it’s good to stop the accelerometer data reporting when you don’t need the data and then restart it when you do.

The main page, with its application bar menu expanded.
FIGURE 44.2 The main page, with its application bar menu expanded.

The User Interface

Boxing Glove has a main page, a settings page, an instructions page, and an about page. The latter two pages aren’t interesting and therefore aren’t shown in this chapter, but Listing 44.1 contains the XAML for the main page. The page, with its application bar menu expanded, is shown in Figure 44.2.

LISTING 44.1 MainPage.xaml—The User Interface for Boxing Glove’s Main Page

[code]

<phone:PhoneApplicationPage
x:Class=”WindowsPhoneApp.MainPage”
xmlns=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation”
xmlns:x=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml”
xmlns:phone=”clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Controls;assembly=Microsoft.Phone”
xmlns:shell=”clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Shell;assembly=Microsoft.Phone”
SupportedOrientations=”Portrait”>
<!– The application bar, with two buttons and three menu items –>
<phone:PhoneApplicationPage.ApplicationBar>
<shell:ApplicationBar Opacity=”.5”>
<shell:ApplicationBarIconButton Text=”ring bell”
IconUri=”/Images/appbar.bell.png” Click=”RingBellButton_Click” />
<shell:ApplicationBarIconButton Text=”switch hand”
IconUri=”/Images/appbar.leftHand.png”
Click=”SwitchHandButton_Click” />
<shell:ApplicationBar.MenuItems>
<shell:ApplicationBarMenuItem Text=”instructions”
Click=”InstructionsMenuItem_Click”/>
<shell:ApplicationBarMenuItem Text=”settings”
Click=”SettingsMenuItem_Click”/>
<shell:ApplicationBarMenuItem Text=”about”
Click=”AboutMenuItem_Click”/>
</shell:ApplicationBar.MenuItems>
</shell:ApplicationBar>
</phone:PhoneApplicationPage.ApplicationBar>
<Border Background=”{StaticResource PhoneAccentBrush}”>
<Image Source=”Images/hand.png” RenderTransformOrigin=”.5,.5”>
<Image.RenderTransform>
<!– ScaleX is 1 for right-handed or -1 for left-handed –>
<CompositeTransform x:Name=”ImageTransform” ScaleX=”1”/>
</Image.RenderTransform>
</Image>
</Border>
</phone:PhoneApplicationPage>

[/code]

Besides the application bar, this page basically contains an image that instructs the user how to hold the phone. The background takes on the theme accent color, so the screen in Figure 44.2 is from a phone whose accent color is set to red.

The application bar contains a button for performing a “ding ding ding” bell sound on demand (to mimic the start of a fight in a boxing ring), and a button for swapping between right-handed mode and left-handed mode. The composite transform flips the image horizontally (in code-behind) when left-handed mode is in use.

The Code-Behind

Listing 44.2 contains the code-behind for the main page. It makes use of two persisted settings defined in a separate Settings.cs file as follows:

[code]

public static class Settings
{
public static readonly Setting<bool> IsRightHanded =
new Setting<bool>(“IsRightHanded”, true);
public static readonly Setting<double> Threshold =
new Setting<double>(“Threshold”, 1.5);
}

[/code]

LISTING 44.2 MainPage.xaml.cs—The Code-Behind for Boxing Glove’s Main Page

[code]

using System;
using System.Windows;
using System.Windows.Media;
using System.Windows.Navigation;
using Microsoft.Devices.Sensors;
using Microsoft.Phone.Controls;
using Microsoft.Phone.Shell;
namespace WindowsPhoneApp
{
public partial class MainPage : PhoneApplicationPage
{
Accelerometer accelerometer;
IApplicationBarIconButton switchHandButton;
DateTimeOffset acceleratingQuicklyForwardTime = DateTimeOffset.MinValue;
Random random = new Random();
double currentThreshold;
public MainPage()
{
InitializeComponent();
this.switchHandButton = this.ApplicationBar.Buttons[1]
as IApplicationBarIconButton;
// Initialize the accelerometer
this.accelerometer = new Accelerometer();
this.accelerometer.ReadingChanged += Accelerometer_ReadingChanged;
SoundEffects.Initialize();
}
protected override void OnNavigatedTo(NavigationEventArgs e)
{
base.OnNavigatedTo(e);
// Start the accelerometer
try
{
this.accelerometer.Start();
}
catch
{
MessageBox.Show(
“Unable to start your accelerometer. Please try running this app again.”,
“Accelerometer Error”, MessageBoxButton.OK);
}
// Also ensures the threshold is updated on return from settings page
UpdateForCurrentHandedness();
}
protected override void OnNavigatedFrom(NavigationEventArgs e)
{
base.OnNavigatedFrom(e);
// Stop the accelerometer
try
{
this.accelerometer.Stop();
}
catch { /* Nothing to do */ }
}
// Process data coming from the accelerometer
void Accelerometer_ReadingChanged(object sender,
AccelerometerReadingEventArgs e)
{
// Only pay attention to large-enough magnitudes in the X dimension
if (Math.Abs(e.X) < Math.Abs(this.currentThreshold))
return;
// See if the force is in the same direction as the threshold
// (forward punching motion)
if (e.X * this.currentThreshold > 0)
{
// Forward acceleration
this.acceleratingQuicklyForwardTime = e.Timestamp;
}
else if (e.Timestamp – this.acceleratingQuicklyForwardTime
< TimeSpan.FromSeconds(.2))
{
// This is large backward force shortly after the forward force.
// Time to make the punching noise!
this.acceleratingQuicklyForwardTime = DateTimeOffset.MinValue;
// We’re on a different thread, so transition to the UI thread.
// This is a requirement for playing the sound effect.
this.Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(delegate()
{
switch (this.random.Next(0, 4))
{
case 0: SoundEffects.Punch1.Play(); break;
case 1: SoundEffects.Punch2.Play(); break;
case 2: SoundEffects.Punch3.Play(); break;
case 3: SoundEffects.Punch4.Play(); break;
}
switch (this.random.Next(0, 10)) // Only grunt some of the time
{
case 0: SoundEffects.Grunt1.Play(); break;
case 1: SoundEffects.Grunt2.Play(); break;
case 2: SoundEffects.Grunt3.Play(); break;
}
});
}
}
void UpdateForCurrentHandedness()
{
this.currentThreshold = (Settings.IsRightHanded.Value ?
Settings.Threshold.Value :
-Settings.Threshold.Value);
this.ImageTransform.ScaleX = (Settings.IsRightHanded.Value ? 1 : -1);
// Show the opposite hand on the application bar button
if (Settings.IsRightHanded.Value)
this.switchHandButton.IconUri = new Uri(“/Images/appbar.leftHand.png”,
UriKind.Relative);
else
this.switchHandButton.IconUri = new Uri(“/Images/appbar.rightHand.png”,
UriKind.Relative);
}
// Application bar handlers
void RingBellButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
SoundEffects.DingDingDing.Play();
}
void SwitchHandButton_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
Settings.IsRightHanded.Value = !Settings.IsRightHanded.Value;
UpdateForCurrentHandedness();
}
void InstructionsMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
this.NavigationService.Navigate(new Uri(“/InstructionsPage.xaml”,
UriKind.Relative));
}
void SettingsMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
this.NavigationService.Navigate(new Uri(“/SettingsPage.xaml”,
UriKind.Relative));
}
void AboutMenuItem_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
this.NavigationService.Navigate(new Uri(“/AboutPage.xaml”,
UriKind.Relative));
}
}
}

[/code]

  • The constructor contains the code for initializing the accelerometer. It constructs an instance of Accelerometer and attaches a handler to its ReadingChanged event. The SoundEffects class, defined in Listing 44.3, is also initialized.
  • OnNavigatedTo contains the code for starting the accelerometer, and OnNavigatedTo stops it. If it weren’t stopped, the handler would still be called (and the sound effects would still be made) while the main page is on the back stack. This would happen when the user visits the settings, instructions, or about pages. Leaving the accelerometer running would not be a problem, and may even be desirable for some apps. However, Listing 44.1 stops it to avoid two threads potentially reading/writing the threshold variable at the same time, as discussed in a later sidebar.

The calls to Accelerometer.Start and Accelerometer.Stop can throw an exception!

This can happen at development-time if you omit the ID_CAP_SENSORS capability from your app manifest. For a published app in the marketplace (which automatically gets the appropriate capability), this should not happen unless you have previously called the Accelerometer instance’s Dispose method.Of course, there’s not much that many accelerometer-based apps can do when the accelerometer fails to start, so Boxing Glove simply instructs to user to try closing and reopening the app and hope for the best.

  • Inside Accelerometer_ReadingChanged, the handler for the ReadingChanged event, only two properties of the AccelerometerReadingEventArgs instance are examined: X and Timestamp. The algorithm is as follows: If the app detects a strong forward horizontal force followed quickly by a strong backward horizontal force, it’s time to make a punching sound. Making the sound when the forward force is detected isn’t good enough, because the sound would be made too early. The sound should occur when the punching motion stops (i.e. hits the imaginary target of the punch). The detected backward force does not result from the phone being moved backward, but rather from the fast deceleration that occurs when the user stops their flying fist in mid-air.
  • The definition of “strong” used by Accelerometer_ReadingChanged’s algorithm is determined by a threshold that is configurable by the user on the settings page. The absolute value of the threshold ranges from almost 0 (.1) to almost 2 (1.9). The sign of the threshold depends on whether the app is in right-handed mode or lefthanded mode. In right-handed mode, forward motion means pushing to phone toward its left, so the threshold of forward force is negative. In left-handed mode, forward motion means pushing the phone toward its right, so the threshold of forward force is positive. This adjustment is made inside UpdateForCurrentHandedness.
  • When it’s time to make a punching noise, the sound is randomly chosen, potentially along with a randomly chosen grunting sound.

The accelerometer’s ReadingChanged event is raised on a non-UI thread!

This is great for processing the data without creating a bottleneck on the UI thread, but it does mean that you must explicitly transition to the UI thread before performing any work that requires it.This includes updating any UI elements or, as in this app, playing a sound effect. Listing 44.2 uses the page dispatcher’s BeginInvoke method to play the sound effect on the UI thread.

Although you can start the accelerometer from a page’s constructor, it’s normally better to wait until an event such as Loaded.That’s because starting it within the constructor could cause the ReadingChanged event to be raised earlier than when you’re prepared to handle it. For example, it can be raised before (or during) the deserialization of persisted settings, causing a failure if a setting is accessed in the event handler. It can be raised before the CompositionTarget.Rendering event is raised,which would be a problem if the implementation of SoundEffects (shown in the next listing) waited for the first Rendering event to call XNA’s FrameworkDispatcher.Update method.

Boxing Glove chooses to start the accelerometer in OnNavigatedTo and stop it in OnNavigatedFrom so the ReadingChanged event-handler thread doesn’t try to access the threshold member while the call to UpdateForCurrentHandedness inside OnNavigatedTo potentially updates it on the UI thread.

The SoundEffects class used by Listing 44.2 is shown in Listing 44.3. It encapsulates the work of setting up the sound effects, with code similar to the apps from Part V, “Audio & Video.”

LISTING 44.3 SoundEffects.cs—Initializes and Exposes Boxing Glove’s Eight Sound Effects

[code]

using System;
using System.Windows.Resources;
using Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio; // For SoundEffect
namespace WindowsPhoneApp
{
public static class SoundEffects
{
public static void Initialize()
{
StreamResourceInfo info;
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/punch1.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Punch1 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/punch2.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Punch2 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/punch3.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Punch3 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/punch4.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Punch4 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/grunt1.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Grunt1 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/grunt2.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Grunt2 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/grunt3.wav”, UriKind.Relative));
Grunt3 = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
info = App.GetResourceStream(new Uri(“Audio/dingDingDing.wav”,
UriKind.Relative));
DingDingDing = SoundEffect.FromStream(info.Stream);
CompositionTarget.Rendering += delegate(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
// Required for XNA Sound Effect API to work
Microsoft.Xna.Framework.FrameworkDispatcher.Update();
};
// Call also once at the beginning
Microsoft.Xna.Framework.FrameworkDispatcher.Update();
}
public static SoundEffect Punch1 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Punch2 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Punch3 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Punch4 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Grunt1 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Grunt2 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect Grunt3 { get; private set; }
public static SoundEffect DingDingDing { get; private set; }
}
}

[/code]

The Settings Page

The settings page, shown in Figure 44.3, contains a slider and a reset button for adjusting the threshold value from .1 to 1.9. The XAML is shown in Listing 44.4 and its codebehind is in Listing 44.5.

The settings page enables the user to adjust the accelerometer threshold, described as “required punching strength.”
FIGURE 44.3 The settings page enables the user to adjust the accelerometer threshold, described as “required punching strength.”

LISTING 44.4 SettingsPage.xaml—The User Interface for Boxing Glove’s Settings Page

[code]

<phone:PhoneApplicationPage
x:Class=”WindowsPhoneApp.SettingsPage” x:Name=”Page”
xmlns=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation”
xmlns:x=”http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml”
xmlns:phone=”clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Controls;assembly=Microsoft.Phone”
xmlns:shell=”clr-namespace:Microsoft.Phone.Shell;assembly=Microsoft.Phone”
xmlns:local=”clr-namespace:WindowsPhoneApp”
FontFamily=”{StaticResource PhoneFontFamilyNormal}”
FontSize=”{StaticResource PhoneFontSizeNormal}”
Foreground=”{StaticResource PhoneForegroundBrush}”
SupportedOrientations=”PortraitOrLandscape”
shell:SystemTray.IsVisible=”True”>
<Grid Background=”{StaticResource PhoneBackgroundBrush}”>
<Grid.RowDefinitions>
<RowDefinition Height=”Auto”/>
<RowDefinition Height=”*”/>
</Grid.RowDefinitions>
<!– The standard settings header –>
<StackPanel Grid.Row=”0” Style=”{StaticResource PhoneTitlePanelStyle}”>
<TextBlock Text=”SETTINGS” Style=”{StaticResource PhoneTextTitle0Style}”/>
<TextBlock Text=”boxing glove”
Style=”{StaticResource PhoneTextTitle1Style}”/>
</StackPanel>
<ScrollViewer Grid.Row=”1”>
<StackPanel Margin=”{StaticResource PhoneMargin}”>
<TextBlock Text=”Required punching strength”
Foreground=”{StaticResource PhoneSubtleBrush}”
Margin=”{StaticResource PhoneMargin}”/>
<Slider x:Name=”StrengthSlider” Minimum=”.1” Maximum=”1.9”
LargeChange=”.1”
Value=”{Binding Threshold, Mode=TwoWay, ElementName=Page}”/>
<Button Content=”reset” Click=”ResetButton_Click”
local:Tilt.IsEnabled=”True”/>
<TextBlock TextWrapping=”Wrap” Margin=”{StaticResource PhoneMargin}”
Text=”…”/>
</StackPanel>
</ScrollViewer>
</Grid>
</phone:PhoneApplicationPage>

[/code]

LISTING 44.5 SettingsPage.xaml.cs—The Code-Behind for Boxing Glove’s Settings Page

[code]

using System.Windows;
using Microsoft.Phone.Controls;
namespace WindowsPhoneApp
{
public partial class SettingsPage : PhoneApplicationPage
{
public SettingsPage()
{
InitializeComponent();
}
// Simple property bound to the slider
public double Threshold
{
get { return Settings.Threshold.Value; }
set { Settings.Threshold.Value = value; }
}
void ResetButton_Click(object sender, RoutedEventArgs e)
{
this.StrengthSlider.Value = Settings.Threshold.DefaultValue;
}
}
}

[/code]

The Finished Product

Boxing Glove (Accelerometer Basics)

1 COMMENT

  1. can you provide the attached source code of this sample. I am finding it difficult to put together the sample from this article alone. Just wanted to see the output on my device

Comments are closed.