Hi all, I really pleased to write the first post on embedded101!

The Digital Blackboard is the solution for all housework problems: you have a common place in the family where you can write all notes and shopping list. Digital Blackboard is a system where Information can be edited from everywhere through:

  • The embedded Digital Blackboard
  • The web Digital Blackboard site
  • The Windows Phone 7 application Digital Blackboard

You won’t have any more problems with synchronization with your family, everyone will be updated on the progress of the shopping list and to do list. Digital Blackboard will also add useful and easy-to-use widgets for the whole family, also for your grandmother.



The embedded Digital Blackboard wants to be a substitute for a traditional blackboard, so it’s composed only by a touch screen, like an All-In-One PC, as shown in the last picture.

I have found a 17’’ touch screen monitor on eBay at a cheap price (around 100$): I think that this is not the definitive display because it is too large, but the deadline of the challenge was too near in order to wait for receiving another one.

In reality I wasn’t able to embed the core of the system on the screen (the Vortex board), so I created a little box.


Vortex board is fixed on a plastic base and the rest of the box is made of a piece of aluminum tube. On two sides of the box it has the following outputs:

  • VGA, for video output
  • 2 USB
    • One dedicated to the touch controller
    • One left to the user
  • Ethernet LAN
  • power supply
  • Audio MIC and SPEAKER, for speech recognition and acoustic notifications


The first step was creating a Windows Embedded Compact 7 image with:

  • Silverlight support
    This allows to develop amazing user interfaces with Expression Blend
  • Touch screen integration
    The touch screen monitor is connected through VGA and the touch controller is USB, so I added the ELO drivers of the touch screen to the workspace of the project. They work fine even if they are for Windows CE 6.0, I had just to change few things on the installation.
  • LAN connection
    This allows the access to web services for synchronization, Facebook®, Marketplace and other web widgets.

The second step was developing the main application, with a captivating user interface. Using Expression Blend I tried to reproduce what happens on a traditional blackboard like the hand written list for the shopping, adding new useful features.

In the following picture I put the numbers to describe them one by one.

Each widget can be placed where you want, as a real blackboard! If you want to delete it, just click on the button on the bottom right: it will show a red close button for each widget.


1. Shopping list: you can write your things to buy, and you can click on them to say “I already bought it!” and the selected item becomes green. If you can’t find one item you can click two times and it becomes red. It automatically becomes red if it’s written for too long time. You can also clear all list with a click on the title.
2. Weather forecast: here you can easily view the weather of your favorite city. The widget gets the data from a rss page.
3. Facebook: this item allows you to login to Facebook® and add a new status phrase.
4. Note: it’s like a post-it®, you can write a note on it.
5. Calendar: this calendar shows the date and it adds an useful information: your friends’ birthdays! It gets the list from your Facebook® profile.
6. Clock: shows the time. I can also enable timer alarms for keeping the time for cocking.
7. Photo slideshow: it shows slideshow of your photos retrieved from Facebook®. If the blackboard stays long time on idle, it starts in full-screen the slideshow.
8. Marketplace: it opens a new view where you can download your favorite widgets and delete what you are not using:



This web application is an identical copy of the board you have at home: it’s easy to see because it is in a web page accessible from any PC through a browser that support Silverlight. With this is simple to check the shopping list before you leave the office.




On a mobile device I can’t create an application with the same view, because the screen is smaller and you need to use it on the move. So I have chosen a panorama application where in three screen you have the most important info: the shopping list, the birthdays’ list and the notes to remember. Here there are screenshots of the application ( the first is the splash screen).


This is the video submitted for the contest:




Thank you all for the good time @ Seattle,