The Internet lets us map the planet with zoom-in granularity and share the flotsam and jetsam of our lives with everyone. Now Photosynth, a new Microsoft program, brings an extraordinary bit of coherence to it all by enabling us to make sense of and interact with all digital images at a level of detail previously reserved for science-fiction films and video games.
In a presentation from this year’s TED Conference, the program’s architect shows how Photosynth compiles a zillion anonymously uploaded online photos of one well-known thing — here, the Notre Dame Cathedral — and integrates them into a single 360-degree image that can be manipulated to change the angle and scale of the view. Magnified by Photosynth, even the chipped tooth of a Notre Dame gargoyle becomes visible. Microsoft calls Photosynth the “newest . . . way to view photos on a computer,” but we’re guessing it’s really a peek at how we’ll experience the Web in the near future. (Microsoft being Microsoft, the software is currently unavailable for Macintosh.)
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