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Just Photography

Silverlight

Silverlight, Photosynth, and Deep Zoom

A collection of images from around the world

On page notes and credits

Photo Galleries The photo gallery links frequently open a new site, use the back button to return here or press the ‘Lightroom’ header to return to the home page.

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Silverlight

Microsoft has developed Silverlight which facilitates Photosynth and Deep Zoom, and a lot of other things besides. It is a free download. According to Microsoft's web site;

  • Microsoft Silverlight is a powerful tool for creating and delivering rich Internet applications and media experiences on the Web. Silverlight 5 builds on the foundation of Silverlight 4 for building business applications and premium media experiences. Silverlight 5 introduces more than 40 new features, including dramatic video quality and performance improvements as well as features that improve developer productivity.

It is stated as being multi-platform, and multi browser, but you do have to download and install the Silverlight browser plug-in. However, I have recently (2012) found out that the hosting platform does have an impact. My main hosting provider, who I have been with for many years, offers both Linux or Windows operating systems. I have been trying to get Silverlight applications to run on my web site for a while with no success. They would work in a preview environment, but not after uploading to my web site. I thought it was something that I was doing wrong in the installation. However, I found some information about MIME associations which made me contact my hosting support. I had Linux but needed Windows to host Silverlight on. Hence this site is on a different platform, Windows, from my main site. Not a problem, just knowing about it is useful, and hopefully worthwhile.

There are some demonstrations and more information about other features on Microsoft's Silverlight website. You may even recognize some of the features, especially the mobile applications.

Two particularly interesting applications from my perspective are Photosynth and Deep Zoom. 

 

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Photosynth

Or skip the background information below and jump directly to my Photosynth page.

Below is an extract from Wikipedia about Photosynth

Photosynth is a software application from Microsoft Live Labs and the University of Washington that analyzes digital photographs and generates a three-dimensional model of the photos and a point cloud of a photographed object. Pattern recognition components compare portions of images to create points, which are then compared to convert the image into a model. Users are able to view and generate their own models using a software tool available for download at the Photosynth website.

It is a phenomenal piece of software which had me absolutely amazed when I first used it. It was very easy to use, and just did what it set out to do.

It is good for small panoramas such as Vancouver Docks. It is amazing when you just chuck almost 500 photos at it and it resolves most of them into the view from Vancouver's Lookout Tower. I think it would have been a full 360degree view if I had done it all at the same time. I had already used some of the images in Part A as a test, so they were not included in the full run. As to be expected, it does take a long time to upload and process so many images, but I think the result is worth it.

The software can be downloaded from the Photosynth web site. You do not need to have Photosynth installed to view either the embedded images or the web site. You do however need to have Silverlight installed.

My Photosynth projects are now on their own Photosynth page.

TED presentation 2007

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, formed to disseminate "ideas worth spreading."

Whilst looking for info on Photosynth I found a YouTube video of part of the March 2007 TED conference entitled Microsoft Seadragon. (Also see the pre Microsoft presentation by Seadragon.) At the TED conference a presentation by Blaise Aguera y Arcas demonstrates Deep Zoom and Photosynth in the early stages of development. It is a fascinating watch, with an insight into social media usage in the future. I have since found another version on YouTube entitled Photosynth demo. Below is the official version from the TED web site.

"This is taking [photos] from everybody — the entire collective memory of what the Earth looks like — and linking all of that together.” (Blaise Aguera y Arcas on the software Photosynth)

At the 2010 TED conference Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos augmented-reality maps and gets a standing ovation for his presentation.

2011 and Microsoft (Bing) has uploaded the video below to YouTube.

 

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Deep Zoom

Deep Zoom, as far as I can make out is part of the output from Microsoft's purchase of Seadragon, as described and shown in the TED 2007 video link above. It is another wonderful development with significant wow factor, for me a least. I hope it 'wow's you also.

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Quotes from related websites

More from TED

New insights on poverty

"My experience from 20 years of Africa is that the seemingly impossible is possible.” (Hans Rosling)

 

Photos that changed the world

"We’re looking for images that shine an uncompromising light on crucial issues, images that transcend borders, that transcend religions, images that provoke us to step up and do something — in other words, to act.” (Jonathan Klein)

 

The design of the universe

At Serious Play 2008, astrophysicist George Smoot shows stunning new images from deep-space surveys, and prods us to ponder how the cosmos -- with its giant webs of dark matter and mysterious gaping voids -- got built this way.
Astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot studies the cosmic microwave background radiation -- the afterglow of the Big Bang. His pioneering research into deep space and time is uncovering the structure of the universe itself.

 

The next 5,000 days of the web

"All these computers, all these handhelds, all these cell phones, all these laptops, all these servers — what we’re getting out of all these connections is we’re getting one machine. … We’re constructing a single, global machine.” (Kevin Kelly)

 

Stephen Lawler tours Microsoft Virtual Earth

"We’re so constrained by browsing the Web, remembering URLs, saving favorites. As we move to search, we rely on the relevance rankings, the Web matching, the index crawling. But we want to use our brain! We want to navigate, explore, discover information.” (Stephen Lawler)

 

The rise of human-computer cooperation

"The interface between man and machine … is more important than the power of the man or the power of the machine in determining overall capability.” (Shyam Sankar)

 

Gary Flake: is Pivot a turning point for web exploration?

Gary Flake demos Pivot, a new way to browse and arrange massive amounts of images and data online. Built on breakthrough Seadragon technology, it enables spectacular zooms in and out of web databases, and the discovery of patterns and links invisible in standard web browsing.

 

Then back to Microsoft, with Seadragon and Silverlight, and forward to PivotViewer. There are three short videos to watch on the page.

Videos and presentations are one thing, but here is a link to a Pivot View of Netflix Instant Watch Movies so you can play yourself. See the power in action. (You will probably need Silverlight installed.). There is information on how it was build at the bottom of the page. Another informative site is Visual Studio Magazine.

If you have stayed the course and managed to watch all of the above video talks, well done. You may be wondering what has all that to do with photography. There is however a common theme. Big data, how it will impact, how we can use it, where it may come from and how will we interface with it, through cooperation with computers operating as one machine on a bigger web. 5000 days done, now the next 5000 days.

The next time you put a photo on the web it will probably become part of that 'Big data' and part of the vision of TED speakers and an augmented reality, perhaps with blurred edges. Hope you enjoyed the thought provoking trip.