DirectX has the power to create and manipulate complex images and sounds. These features, combined with the ability to register user input and its network capabilities, make it a powerful library. With this library, you can create Kiosks that show off your latest products, games that have surround sound and stereo audio effects, and many other multimedia applications. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
One of the best uses of the DirectX object model is to create applications that can show off your products. For example, you could create a fully interactive demonstration to showcase a product such as a new car. You could change the car's exterior color or upholstery color. You could also see what the dash would look like with different options, such as the latest sound system, installed. Figure 1.1 shows how DirectX could be used to showcase a vintage car.
Figure 1.1 Showcasing a product.
Music and Sound
With sound, you could take the previous example a little further. How would you like to let the people looking at the car in your kiosk be able to listen to their new sound system? With DirectX, you could allow users to turn on the virtual stereo and listen to the difference in the types of sound systems your company offers. Figure 1.2 shows an example of a music selection program.
Figure 1.2 Music and sound.
What good is a program if users can't interact with it? One of the foundations of multimedia is the process of incorporating users' input into the experience. This feature draws users into your application and lets them decide the course of action. They can choose what doors to open on your virtual car, or they can move a joystick to defend the galaxy from its worst enemies. Through multimedia interaction, you can pull the user into your application. In Figure 1.3, the user interface allows the user to choose an answer to a trivia question.
Figure 1.3 Trivia question user interaction.
Screensavers and Multimedia
One of the fascinating things that can be done with DirectX is creating screensavers. Through Visual Basic, screensavers and similar multimedia applications have been around for some time. The advantage of DirectX coming onto the scene is that the graphics are much faster and smoother, the sound quality is much better, and the overall experience is much more enjoyable. Figure 1.4 shows a simple screensaver with animated bouncing balls.
Figure 1.4 Screensavers.
Game programming, of course, is a big part of the DirectX experience. With DirectX, games can be created for the Windows platform with less code. Because DirectX uses standard hardware drivers, there is better control over the hardware itself, which results in better hardware performance. Figure 1.5 showcases a simple game with a snowman as the main character.
Figure 1.5 Snowman game.
One of the really remarkable features of DirectX is its ability to synchronize data across modems, a network, or even the Internet. With this feature, it's possible for developers to make complex programs that send and receive transmission packets across the great divide. A good example of synchronizing data can be seen in Figure 1.6, which shows an application that allows users to talk with each other instantly across the Net.
Figure 1.6 Synchronizing data.