So about a year ago Photosynth was announced by Microsoft and to be honest I was unimpressed. For those that don’t know what Photosynth is it’s a unique technology approach to allow users to search across a vast number of images in a very interactive way. To quote Microsoft’s take on this I’ll quote their web site:
“Our software takes a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays the photos in a reconstructed three-dimensional space, showing you how each one relates to the next.“
Technology wise it’s quite an eye grabber, but my initial take last year was what could this possibly be good for? I’m not ready to completely discount Photosynth and in my idle time I do ponder the possibilities. My curiosity about this technology reemerged when a friend recently forwarded me the following video from TED2007:
In the demo there is a very neat portion where Mr. Aguera y Arcas is navigating and seemlessly zooming in on thousands of images to very granular data. Another element of the demo that is quite neat is a 3D model of a subject created by 1000’s of images on Flickr of a common subject.
Again… neat. Really though I’m still left wondering what useful application this would provide to the common photographer or viewer. Do I really want to spend my time visually searching for something in a pile of thousands of images? Do I really want to read a newspaper in this way? Other than wowing my friends do I want to use the 3D model of a subject made from 1000’s of images? If I’m researching an area to photograph do I want to see all the photos that have already been taken? So far the answer to all these questions are no. I’d rather leverage text search or some form of visual image search technology like Riya to find what I’m looking for. For now I chalk Photosynth up to eye candy and a great technology toy. As with most new technologies perhaps this is solution to a problem that hasn’t quite yet been identified or fully fleshed out.
In the meantime I’ll resist thinking so hard and just enjoy the neat factor.
[tags]Microsoft, Photosynth, TED, demo, video, presentation Blaise Aguera y Arcas, technology, software, photo, image, search, 3D, Riya, photograph, navigate, navigation, TED2007[/tags]