Updated Microsoft Photosynth

From the NYTIMES, this is a partial reprint to update the local knowledgebase of understanding, for the complete article, full pictures, comments and all the useful items head over to the full article on NYTimes.com Updated Microsoft Photosynth Makes HDTV Look Low-Resolution, the pictures are amazing.

Microsoft's latest update to Photosynth, a  technology that stitches together overlapping photos, to create 3-D panoramas.Microsoft’s latest update to Photosynth, a  technology that stitches together overlapping photos, to create 3-D panoramas.

While online panoramas have been available for years, the new updates to Photosynth, which will be available on a first-come first-serve basis Tuesday, can now create panoramas that are hyper-detailed and actually look 3-D.

Microsoft said it is able to make the 3-D panorama look so realistic by actually creating a sort-of 3-D model of a photo using proprietary algorithms, then taking high-resolutions photos and layering them on top of each other. The company’s latest updates also make panoramas much smoother and speedier — they could sometimes be jittery in the earlier versions of the software.

The new software shows images almost like a high-resolution video that is fully interactive. Swiping your mouse up will move you forward on the screen; swiping down will smoothly bring you backwards through an image.

The image above is pieced together in 3-D. Below, an images show how a Photosynth photo is layered together.The image above is pieced together in 3-D. Below, an images show how a Photosynth photo is layered together.

The images are incredibly detailed, too. The Mount Everest Photosynth demo was shot by David Brashears, a mountaineer, and is made up of 177 different 60-megapixel photos. Microsoft says this resolution allows the panorama to play like a video that is 30 times more detailed than an HDTV signal.

David Gedye, lead program manager at Microsoft, said that while there is an artistic goal to offer people software that makes these types of images, there is also a business reason behind the software.

“At Microsoft, we’ve long had a goal of documenting the important places in the world and sharing them on Bing,” he said in a phone interview, referring to the company’s search engine. ”We don’t need to drive trucks or employ people to capture the world, we can work with enthusiasts who take these pictures” and then stitch them all together in a highly immersive way.

Mr. Gedye said that adding these images to Microsoft’s search features, including Bing search and its mapping software, makes a more compelling offering for users who are searching through Microsoft products.

“It’s about giving this power to Bing to make it a place where things are really presented beautifully and in a place where it’s immersive and interactive,” he said. People can also use the updated software to document their own objects or places that can be embedded on a personal website.

The new software does not work on iPads or smartphones that don’t support WebGL, a JavaScript 3-D rendering engine. But Microsoft said it is working on updates that will enable the software, or a variation of it, on these platforms.

The company also plans to add updates to Photosynth apps that allow people to create these immersive images on their smartphones. Until then, users will have to upload an array of photos to the Photosynth website to be turned into an interactive 3-D space.

A version of this article appears in print on 12/16/2013, on page B8 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Making Images Appear 3-D.

Fostering Tech Talent in Schools

I have included a reprint from the NYTimes this morning.  While the effort is absolutely laudable and worthy, I wonder, in the time I move from the washroom to my classroom, if there is a lack of clarity as to why this might occur, the need to have extra assistance. 

I vacuumed my room this morning, responded as best I could to parent emails, have setup my Moodle course agendas with Learning Goals for the day, and grading, always grading, despite being over 300 marks behind.  I updated my servers over the weekend, and still can’t figure out a few technical glitches from last week.

I will, in the time allowed, work to the best of my capability to inspire and challenge students, keeping in mind all of the things a guest instructor may be able to push aside.  And in my spare time I will continue to attempt to get my high school to approved a computer science course and to let me teach even the basic courses in my department to engage students. 


Stuart Isett for The New York Times

“We are taking the kids farther than I could do,” said Michael Braun, a teacher who is working with the Microsoft volunteers.

Published: September 30, 2012 41 Comments

UCBerkeley: ChronoZoom: A deep dive into the history of everything

This is a reprint of the article so I can use this with my classes.  Please view the article on the original web site where additional links and information can be found.

I am interested in how they are attempting to view the Big Data stack that is our History.

This collage demonstrates how the time scales for the cosmos, Earth history and the histories of life and humanity span a range of a million billion, making it impossible to view them together on the same timeline. Using zoom technology from Microsoft Research Connections, ChronoZoom allows you to zoom easily from one timescale to another, and imbed multimedia that tell the history of everything.

ChronoZoom: A deep dive into the history of everything

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | March 14, 2012


Imagine a timeline of the universe, complete with high-resolution videos and images, in which you could zoom from a chronology of Egypt’s dynasties and pyramids to the tale of a Japanese-American couple interned in a World War II relocation camp to a discussion of a mass extinction that occurred on Earth 200 million years ago – all in seconds.

Based on an idea from a University of California, Berkeley, student, ChronoZoom – essentially a zoomable timeline of timelines augmented with multimedia features –- is coming to life.

Roland Saekow disusses ChronoZoom’s possibly revolutionary impact on education and the teaching of history. (Video produced by Roxanne Makasdjian, Media Relations)

Roland Saekow disusses ChronoZoom’s possibly revolutionary impact on education and the teaching of history. (Video produced by Roxanne Makasdjian, Media Relations)

A University of California, Berkeley, geologist and his students have teamed up with Microsoft Research Connections engineers to make this web-based software possible. ChronoZoom is being designed to help students, or anyone, visualize history and to assist researchers in viewing large amounts of data to find new historical connections.

A beta version of ChronoZoom was released today (Wednesday, March 14) by Outercurve Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports open-source software.

The idea arose in a UC Berkeley course about Big History taught by Walter Alvarez, the campus geologist who first proposed that a comet or asteroid smashed into the Earth 65 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs. Big History is a unified, interdisciplinary way of looking at and teaching the history of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity: the history of everything.

Free Microsoft Tools

I am currently working with students using Kodu and Photosynth.  I already use Live MovieMaker and Photo Story and find those of great value.  Check them out and see.

Microsoft offers free tools to help engage students in a variety of subject areas—from moviemaking to collaboration to science and beyond. Teachers can download these tools for free, the majority of which require no special training.