Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two interesting announcements: Photosynth and TinEye

This past week I saw two interesting photographic announcements.

One announcement was Photosynth, a Microsoft endeavour that I first saw demonstrated in a short but mind-blowing Ted Talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas. This is a fascinating application that combines a large number of photographs into a single "3D" continuum. You can browse the images, zoom in, out and move around, essentially providing a higher-order view of the images. It's quite amazing when the "synth" is done well. This "synth" of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a good example. The Photosynth website opens up this application to anyone who wants to try it.

A second announcement was TinEye Image Search, the kind if image search that I've always wanted, and the kind I expected Google to offer. This search engine uses a photograph as a search key, and uses pattern recognition to find that image on the web. It can also find alterations to the image, or use of the image in a collage. This concept is great -- it offers a way to see how an image is being used on the internet. The main drawback right now is that the image database is limited in size, and to be honest, it's too small for any practical use. However, the database is constantly expanding, and at some point it time, it will reach a critical mass of images. It's clear that this is a small start-up comany with a great idea. Hopefully they will get sufficient funding to make this search engine a go (or look for them to be acquired by one of the major players).

I really like the Photosynth app because it opens up a completely different way to process images -- a different concept of how to use and think about the billions of images available. In fact, both of these announcements open up the use of images on the web in a whole new way.

. . . Rob Williams