Posted on May 20th, 2009 1 comment
Here is the view from one of my favourite local landmarks:
SynthView – the Royal Observatory Greenwich, home of Time
I took these pictures with my mobile phone on the spur of the moment. No special equipment needed for an amateur like me. You can see the panorama and the panorama-plan beneath given to aid visitors. Standing there for a few minutes is quite entertaining because you can hear the same conversation repeated in multiple languages between different tourists. I caught what sounded like Japanese, Russian and Italian, ‘blah, blah St.Pauls, blah Millennium Dome/o2 Arena, blah Canary Wharf’ etc. accompanied by lots of pointing gestures.
I managed 85% synthy which is ok, but it still meant there were some ‘orphaned’ pictures. The new ‘hotspot’ feature (thumbnails on the right in ‘highlights’) gives an easy way to zoom into these orphaned images, making navigation easier. There are also extra controls beneath the map making it easier to move around the stitched image-set.
Now that Silverlight is the viewer, it means that both pc and mac users should have no problem viewing Synths and I personally hope that it is not too long before Linux is supported by Silverlight too. Overall I think it is a brilliant imaging tool for bloggers and absolutely can be useful for businesses. The tourist and real estate sectors are being touted as obvious beneficiaries (to show properties, points of interest etc..), but I can see this technology becoming pervasive as it continues to evolve.
How to put a synth on your blog or web page
It’s not Rocket Science, in a nutshell:
- Take a lot of pictures of your subject, following the guidelines at photosynth.net
- Upload them using the free software available on Live Labs
- click the ‘<>‘ embed icon to the right of the synth and copy the code, then insert into your blogpost or webpage
How can Photosynth improve?
Make no bones, I love this technology, it is accessible, easy-to-use and visually stunning. It can still get even better though as a service, some thoughts…
- An online service like DeepZoomPix for creating synths, completely platform-independent, that is in the spirit of the future and cloud computing, and you no longer run the risk of alienating mac/linux users
- I hope Silverlight will be truly cross-platform and work with Linux, a dependency here although there is always Moonlight, nonetheless I think the move to Silverlight was definitely a positive one
- Look at ways to work better with Social Networking Platforms to make the service more integrated and interoperable, easier sharing, publishing to Facebook etc..
- improve the geotagging facility and integrate
VEBing Maps with the interface instead of as a pop-up so users can quickly see the geographical context of a synth
HDView: A panorama Royal Observatory Greenwich
These are a subset of the same pictures used to create the Synth above. This is a Silverlight driven, HDView panorama using DeepZoom imaging format. There is a hell of a lot more you can do with DeepZoom (see Hard Rock Memorabilia Deep Zoom or Charles Darwin for example to be blown away), but the format supports these panoramas nicely too.
zoom in for more detail and you can use your arrow keys or mouse to move around
This is also at the least a big improvement on just a standard photo, and with better quality than achieved with my mobile phone you can have quite an immersive image.
How to put a HDView panorama on your blog or web page
This was a little more work, but not a lot:
- Take some overlapping pictures of your subject
- Download and install the freely available Microsoft ICE
- Make a new composition with ICE and export using DeepZoom format
- Upload the html page created by your export, the .xap file (Silverlight controls) and stitch images (directory) to your web server, then either include as an iframe as I have done or you could use the markup from this page to embed the object on your webpage/blogpost. With blog posts this can be a bit tricky if you don’t control the markup in your header, but it is possible (there are plugins etc..)
SeaDragon powers the images you see above, it looks like a very smart technology which enormously enhances the ability of your browser or client to view large numbers of complex images in one viewer. I’m going to quote one of the co-creators of Photosynth, Blaise Aguera y Arcas:
“Seadragon is an environment in which you can either locally or remotely interact with vast amounts of visual data. And it doesn’t matter how much information we are looking at, how big the collections are or how big the images are, it does not make any difference because the only thing that can limit the performances of this system at any given time is the number of pixels on your screen”
That sums it up nicely for me, I imagine the potential for this is huge. Nasa are already publishing images of their Space Station online using this and CNN displayed a fantastic crowd-sourced synth of Obama’s inauguration, ‘the moment’. Great examples of this potential.
For me this is digital imagery come of age, instead of only publishing static images, I can almost as easily publish immersive, interactive digital imagery. A big step forward.
- Microsoft Live Labs (includes SeaDragon and Photosynth)
- Photosynth blog
- HDView blog
Virtual EarthBing Maps Technical Evangelist Chris Pendleton’s blog – watch out for iSynth and the unique American-style blog-writing
- Tim Warr’s Blog
- DeepZoomPix – looks a very nice facility to publish online and share without needing a client
Microsoft Virtual EarthBing Maps