Thursday, August 6, 2009

Neato! Haleakala in Photosynth

Though generally, I don't feel that Microsoft produces a very useful product (despite running their OS and productivity suite), this time they've made something really neat.

The product is called Photosynth, and is something like a fancy photo stitching program which serves high quality (resolution) images from their webserver and combines images from various viewpoints and magnification levels. The really cool stuff happens when you use your feet to zoom in on incredibly fine details of the scene (which I haven't managed to do yet, but the examples on their site do well).

They offer another cool piece of software, called DeepZoom, which is a similar idea, except without doing the photo stitching, just lots of high-res images which are shown at low resolution, but you can do GoogleMaps style panning and zooming to get in close for high-res details.

I think they're going in a good direction on these projects, what I want to see (and I will grant that it is asking alot), is for the smooth panning and zooming of DeepZoom to be combined with the stitching ability of Photosynth. Additionally, and this is where it would be SUPERCOOL, they need to be able to do it with more than just images. Imagine if you could create a website where the entire site is one big Photosynth, you can zoom in to arbitrary detail on images and text, and most importantly, the clickable links will take you between parts of the site, or open new browser tabs for external links. If you can't imagine it, trust me, it would be amazing!

Here's the fantasy: You go over to (not really there) and it brings you to the home page, you scroll out, mouse over the galleries section, scroll back in, mouse over the gallery you want, scroll in some more, see the photo you want, scroll in some more. Now you click, and BAM! (to quote Emeril), you see the next photo in the album, or better yet, you right click, and all the photos with common content are displayed as a photosynth. Bored of photos, you scroll out until you see the blog section, mouse over, scroll in, read the fascinating insights and want to know more, so you click the link and it pops up another tab with the external site. It's fast, intuitive, makes navigating super easy, and looks slicker than snot.

In the meantime, here are a few Photosynth things I've made with old photos.

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