If you’ve never seen Windows Sideshow in operation you’re in for a treat. Sideshow is a function in Windows Vista which allows small hardware gadgets to access data and control the host device.
The team have just released a runtime to enable you to turn any Windows Mobile device (touchscreen or smartphone, as long as both it and your PC supports Bluetooth) into a Sideshow device and host gadgets. You can find out more details and download it from their blog.
Examples of Sideshow in action include remote controls and external screens on laptops, Fridge magnets and messenger bags. Gadgets can be simple RSS readers, weather alerts or remote control for your Windows Media Player. You can get more detail at WindowsSideshow.com and SideShowDevices.com and find gadgets at the Windows Live Gallery.
The neat thing for developers is that the team have also just released a new SDK to allow development using Managed Code (C# rather than C++) which makes it easier to develop gadgets that can run on any Sideshow equipped devices.
I’ve been playing with it over the weekend and love being able to use my phone to control Windows Media from across the room. More practical uses include controlling a PowerPoint presentation or getting weather at a glance on both your Vista sidebar as well as a device you take everywhere with you.