Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Microsoft has come up with something really amazing in its research labs called Photosynth. I learned about it from this TED talk with Blaise Aguera y Arcas. He demos the software, showing how it syncs photos of the same geographic location so you can manipulate the object of the photos in 3D passing through the lens of each picture. The pictures come from all over the web, from devices as varied as camera phones to high resolution cameras so as you pull each one into focus you can explore its specific resolution and visual character. The great quote from Aguera y Arcas comes when he compares the experience of changing one's point of view from a distant perspective to an extreme closeup to manipulating paper. He calls paper "an inherently multi-scale medium," which puts the finger on why e-paper could never take the place of physical paper. No matter what happens inside the screen, the metal and liquid crystal provide an impermeable barrier between you and the object you'd like to manipulate. Photosynth does bring you a little closer to that experience, though.

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