Just saw Blaise Aguera Y Arcas give a stunning live demo of Photosynth at Picnic 2007. While I had seen his demo on the Internet before (he has gotten a lot of deserved attention for it), seeing him in real life is even better. He has done some amazing stuff on manipulating and viewing incredible amounts of pictures in real-time. As an example, he has created a 3D model of the Notre Dame by taking thousands of Flickr images on the Notre Dame (all angles, all qualities) and stitching them together into a 3D model that can be explored from any angle, including all angles the original pictures were taken from. What makes it incredible to me is the fact that it now becomes possible to map large parts of the world simply by stitching together all content users have created. Imagine in a few years a whole city can be mapped this way. You have taken a picture of the White House, but you can also walk around the corner to see what’s there, because other people have taken pictures of that. Or, you are inside a room, and you can simply fly out of the window if people have taken pictures of the window and the outside of the building. He can handle very large data sets due to a unique way of handling the data (basically he only shows what part of a picture, in what resolution, is actually needed, instead of downloading a 100Mb picture before you can see something). Check out here for a demo, to try it out yourself, or here for the video. Truly amazing work, Google Earth, you will have a very large competitor here!
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