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How many fingers point can be tracked by Windows 8

Windows 8 brought to us a native support for touch screens. This is a great feature that opens the tablets world for us.
For touch support, we have a lot of gestures that are built in. We need only to subscribe to the event that we want to listen. This can be very useful, because we don’t need any more to implement our custom gestures.
  • Tap - one finger touches the screen and lifts up.
  • Press and hold - one finger touches the screen and stays in place.
  • Slide - one or more fingers touch the screen and move in the same direction.
  • Swipe - one or more fingers touch the screen and move a short distance in the same direction.
  • Turn - two or more fingers touch the screen and move in a clockwise or counter-clockwise arc.
  • Pinch - two or more fingers touch the screen and move closer together.
  • Stretch - two or more fingers touch the screen and move farther apart.
If we need a custom gesture we can implement it without any kind of problem. This is not recommended because the user will need to learn new gestures for each application.
I received some question about how many fingers can be tracked in the same time by Windows 8. It seems that this is direct dependent to the hardware. WinRT API gives as the possibility to track each touch point separately with a unique id when the track point enters in our component. We can store these items in a collection (dictionary with the pointer ID as key). When a new pointer appears in our component we can add it to our collection and when the pointer exits our control we will need to remove it from our collection. In this way we will know how many finger points are in our controller.
The event that we need to use to track these actions is PointerMoved event of a container. The event will contains a method named “GetCurrentPoint”, that will return the current point that was moved. Each object of this type contains two properties that are very useful for us:
  • PointerId – The unique id of the pointer (each time when we touch the screen a new point with a new id will be generated).
  • IsInContact – Will tell us if the current pointer is still in contact (eq. when you remove the finger from the screen this method will be called with this property set to false – at this step we need to remove the pointer id from the collection).
Our code should look like something like this:
private void container_PointerMoved(object sender, PointerRoutedEventArgs e)
    PointerPoint currentPointerPoint = e.GetCurrentPoint(myContainer);
    var pointerId = currentPointerPoint.PointerId;
    if (!currentPointerPoint.IsInContact 
           && collection.Contains(pointerId))
    if (currentPointerPoint.IsInContact) 
  // Check the pointer location - Position.X and Position.X properties
  collection[pointerId] = ...;
It seems that the number of maxim fingers that are supported by Windows 8 is directly dependent by the hardware.


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