Seadragon and Photosynth demo at TED2007

TED ConferenceIf you’ve never heard of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, then you haven’t seen anything. It’s the equivalent of 100 Steve Jobs keynotes compressed into one conference (without the “Boom!”s) – if you’re interested in the topic, it won’t disappoint. The name doesn’t really catch on as a hip technology conference, but every year, some of the brightest and most entertaining minds come together to talk about how great and grim our world is. Check out this 7-min awe-inspiring documentary about TED.

Best of all, it is probably the only conference in the world which offers the best talks available online in fairly high resolution within a reasonable time after the people who’s paid thousands of dollars to see live (Rupert Murdoch, Al Gore, Bill Gates), all under Creative Commons, showing that this isn’t just a conference of smart people, but also a conference hosted by smart people.

Today Natasha from TED kindly contacted me about a new presentation which has just been published concerning Microsoft. It is of course the “Photosynth demo” by its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas. This was recorded quite recently, only in March, and contains probably one of the better demos of Seadragon and Photosynth – more screen action than talking. Although indirectly, Blaise also showed off Flickr-integration in Photosynth – fetching geographically-relevant photos real-time from Flickr, proving it can be done in a practical manner. That will be a killer app.

If you like what you see, then I urge you to check out some of the other talks available on the site. Some of my favorites include: Ze Frank’s comedy act, Sergey and Larry’s Google talk, Seth Godin’s sliced bread, Hans Rosling’s mind-blowing statistics, Savage-Rumbaugh’s apes that play Pac-Man, and one that will probably make you weep, James Nachtwey’s photo-story about the world.

24 insightful thoughts

  1. The Flickr demo was cool, but what makes you think it was realtime? It looked like a pre-fetched collection of photos.

  2. Awesome. :)

    1) Re: Flickr–yeah, I don’t think he was getting those images real-time. Oh well. Still really cool.
    2) Looking at the Seadragon stuff right at the beginning, all I can think is, “Windows Photo Gallery 2???” :)
    3) It’d also work great with Surface…

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  4. Long Zheng wrote:
    >>fetching geographically-relevant photos real-time from Flickr, proving it can be done in a practical manner.

    You should fix your article. What you wrote is entirely not true.

  5. I don’t suppose anyone here knows where to find information on what Technology actually powers Seadragon. I know there is some kind of image pyramid hierarchy going on, but I’m at a loss as to what else could be powering it.

  6. Yeah… It’s not real-time from flickr, they just acquired all of the photos from flickr. Their system had process these images to find the similarities, arrange them spatially, then they’re all subsequently compressed to the JPEG 2000 (.jp2) format for easy viewing. The enabling technology here is JPEG 2000, where very small bits of information read from the beginning of the file will provide correct color representation of the entire image. If you demand more definition, just load more of the file.

    Check out DeepFish… Microsoft Labs has developed a Windows Mobile browser that does just this for desktop pages rendered on a Mobile device. Found this today after wondering what Microsoft had done since acquiring seadragon–as I haven’t yet seen any live, public applications!

    It looks like the iPhone has its own derivative of this too…

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