Click through. Now. Read the rest of this when you get back. Just don’t forget to come back. (FYI: you may have problems behind a firewall… I did)
This is one of the biggest breakthroughs in collective consciousness, collaboration, and visual relationships I can think of. Seriously, this is an amazing tool.
The first tool, Seadragon, is impressive enough. Amazing, smooth, manipulation of images of various depths, and even of non-image data (there’s a whole book in there!). Just the example of the fake ad they put into the newspaper could revolutionize the way advertising companies build their products – it appears that you could build an almost infinite depth to the detail you can provide.
The second tool, however, builds on the strengths of the first and then explodes the possibilities in almost incalculable ways. Photosynth can take the images lying around on the web (they used Notre Dame images from Flickr as the source for their example) relate them to each other, and provide a virtually seamless 3-dimensional tour of the subject, with details limited only by the photos themselves.
Imagine that 4000 tourists took pictures of the Sistine Chapel, at various zooms and angles, on various types of cameras, and each of them posted to the web. With Photosynth, we can come along and let someone sitting at his computer in Bumblyberg, USA take a 360 degree tour of the Chapel, and zoom in and out to see details at will.
Now extend the idea to someone wearing a virtual reality helmet. They could actually walk through the Sistine Chapel and even fly right up to the artwork. And the visuals wouldn’t be the result of modeling by a graphic artist, like in a video game, or in Second Life – they would be full color photos seamlessly stitched together. (and to go really wild, keep extending the idea and you end up with something akin to the Holodecks on Star Trek.)
Speaking of Second Life, if we could integrate Photosynth with that, your avatar could do the same thing as I just described. I’d imagine that to be an easier accomplishment than the virtual reality thing, but I don’t really know.
If you work as a travel agent, you could send someone on a preview of their trip! But the uses go way beyond tourism. Imagine using it as a training tool. Exploring the ins and outs of a Non-Heatset Press – with the right photos and planning, you could go create an amazing training session for a press operator, letting him see the press as he never could before without taking it off-line. You could probably even overlay schematics. Or create a tour of your manufacturing plant for your clients, letting them explore at will rather than following a video.
History teachers could let their students explore the ruins of the Parthenon in Athens…. I can’t stop thinking of ways this could be used.
What uses can you come up with? What avenues for collaboration does this open up?
(if you didn’t take my advice and click through in the beginning… do it now! What are you waiting for?!)
[tags]technology, images, collaboration, web2.0, flickr, photosynth, second life, training, TED, microsoft[/tags]