Photosynth demo

 By Shamus Jun 17, 2007 16 comments

Reader Telas sent this link along. It’s a demo of some new software. As a professional software developer myself, I feel I need to add my own unique viewpoint and share my expert opinion: Oh holy crap wow!

That really is cool. The ability to visually cruise through different media and zoom in and out looks like something truly useful. I’ve seen many misguided attempts to visualize a bunch of files, but I’ve never seen any that looked like more than a gimmick. They don’t give the system specs for the machine performing the demo, so I suspect it’s some overpowered monster with a hojillion kabillion megabytes of memory, but if such a thing could ever run that smooth on a machine owned by mortals, I’d get it in a second.

(I will say that things like this make me want to hang up my hat as a programmer. There are some frighteningly brilliant people out there, and if I dedicated the rest of my life to honing my skills I doubt I could come within cruise missile range of something like this.)

1624 comments. (That's 10 in Hexadecimal.)


  1. Happy Father’s Day, Shamus!

  2. So, what your telling me is that soon every picture on the internet will be linked to other pictures that tell me how to get low mortgage rates, buy cheap viagra, enlarge my manly parts, and meet barely legal teens? W00t!

  3. > things like this make me want to hang up my hat as a programmer

    Even assuming that the amazing software in question is the result of one brilliant person, or a small group of brilliant persons, this still doesn’t hold.

    Unless you have a deep innate need to be King Shit, who cares if there exists in the world a Warren Buffett/Wernher von Braun/Jaco Pastorius (and look what happened to HIM)? If you can look at what you did yesterday/last week/last month and feel that it was worthwhile, and it wasn’t just selling advertising during reality TV shows, then you’re a winner. Or, at least, good ENOUGH. It’s fine to yearn for more, but it’s dumb to count yourself a failure if you do not achieve that lofty goal.

    If you feel you’ve achieved something that matters to you, or at least worked towards the future achieving of something, then you can hold your head high.

    Alternatively: Is that guy who bullied me in school still alive down there in the basement, despite the flooding? Yes? Then today has been yet another Good Day!

  4. Dave says:

    Wow.. both to the software.. and the response to your blog..

    First of all.. if you ever wondered how George Orwell’s 1984 could ever possibly come to be.. well.. now they have the software for it.. surely you could link up to any web cam .. certainly you could get the info on the images.. and the files.. and what about liscenses.. like.. could they link to a photo.. and discover unliscensed copies of Windows.. hmmm… 1984.. a few years late.

    Ast to the programmer(s) being bullies and Shamus quitting programming.. uh.. guys.. Shamus was using something called sarcasm.. and Shamus.. I think Daniel is trying to say he’s got your back.. and aparently would hire you for any project.. ever.. so you got that going for you.. which is nice.

    Though.. I’m a bit confused at how that presenter was trying to be King of the programmers. Whether he’s brilliant or he’s part of a small team.. or a huge group.. it’s still a neat concept that appears to be coming to fruition… and the implications are devestatingly good and devistatingly bad.

    .. another Genie is out of the bottle.

  5. Scott says:

    I don’t think the system specs will be too incredibly high. He did say “The only thing that ought to limit a system like this one is the number of pixels on your screen.”

  6. Jan says:

    Organising the photos in space might take a lot of processing time, displaying them once that’s done isn’t so bad. Check out the demo at http://labs.live.com/photosynth/sysreq.htm?collection=sanmarco/index1.sxs

  7. Tom says:

    Seamus, the demo he mentioned on is on the Microsoft labs.live.com site, and runs fine on my machine (within firefox no less), but is held up by the poor excuse for DSL we have in this country (NZ). I guess its a little like the newer GTA games, which manage to seamlessly stream a HUGE game world into memory when needed – with a bit of smart caching it can probably hide most file access times and just spit the photos out from RAM.

  8. robert says:

    yeah…I’ve been programming for 20+ years and it’s sometimes humbling when I see stuff like this. Although it’s not the zooming that’s impressive. (no..really..it’s not..think multi-resolution textures used in most video games today). It’s the stitching together of data between all the photos. Of course, he mentions that data is keyed in so I wonder how much of the stitching process is truly automated. If they’ve managed to make this stitching work seamlessly and with very minimal manual input then this is indeed impressive.

    Don’t really know because he didn’t demonstrate adding a new photo to the database. THAT is the key…if users can easily add to this system then it becomes viral and very useful very quickly. Otherwise..meh…

  9. trigear says:

    You know, this video is making the rounds on the blogosphere right now like it’s a new thing, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that I saw this same tech demo already two years ago. Don’t you hate when that happens?

  10. malfunction84 says:

    He mentioned “computer vision,” which suggests to me that some image recognition software is being employed. The process they used on Notre Dame, constructing a 3D model based on 2D images from different perspectives, has been under development for years.

    That’s probably the heaviest part of their work: combining the computer vision with whatever component determines the value of related metadata… finding out which pictures to bother running the computer vision algorithm on. Or perhaps they are combined, and the computer vision component is what gives the indication of how well the picture in question “fits” with the rest of the collection.

    Did anyone else get tickled by his use of the word “metaverse”? I’m just a sucker for that “meta-” prefix.

  11. This software, and the microsoft’s touch table… Two great things to combine.

    I am looking forward to the new age of computer technology, where the computer can be interacted with more directly and more active. 104 keys, a rolling wheel and a rolling ball is a bit limited.

  12. Sartorius says:

    104 keys, a rolling wheel and a rolling ball is a bit limited.

    At least … you’re not still posting … by setting switches … on the front panel … of your personal computer … like some of us …

  13. capitain says:

    First thought: wow!
    Second Thought: This is 1984 redux.
    Third: How does it work? Is that a combination of image recognition, typed tagging and selection by user or what?
    - By the way. I just have BASIC programming-skills. But not more. So if anyone could enlighten me to the finer points. Feel free.

  14. Lee says:

    If you thought Google Street View was interesting before, wait until it’s combined with this.

    Google Maps knows where the streets are, as well as elevation changes and the like… this can create 3D composites of buildings. It certainly wouldn’t be easy to implement, but you could create a full 3D version of nearly any mapped city, for virtual tours, car racing games, or whatever purpose you had in mind. It seems like it’d need very little artwork once implemented.

    I mentioned this to my father yesterday (while wishing him Happy Father’s Day). Further demonstrating how differently we think about certain things, his first response was “I’m not sure I want a terrorist to get ahold of something like that.”

  15. Carl the Bold says:

    1. I am not worthy to comment on the content of the vid except to say I was impressed.

    2. I love how the guy responsible for introducing this topic in a professional forum of some type to hundreds of people live and millions on line does so in a geeky T-Shirt.

    3. I only mentioned the first point above because I didn’t want anyone to say, “Carl saw that presentation and the biggest impression he got was what the guy was wearing?!?!”

    4. I don’t even get casual Fridays on Friday.

  16. Yahzi says:

    “Limited by the pixels on your screen.”

    Man, why can’t the game people get that one right? No more lag in MMORPG cities!

    :D

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