Let's face it, Flickr has brought photography to the front lines again with its friendly and accessible interface providing a visual platform for more than 1 million users and some 30 million photographs*. Even with the UI's celebrity for being one of the easiest to use on the web, it's a daunting task to be able to root through that many pictures and actually find anything of meaning, or interest to you. This new research project isn't going to help you find images more quickly or efficiently; but it sure will be a lot more fun to get there.
On the docket to appear at Siggraph this year, Finding Paths Through the World's Photos is sure to make a lot of people stand up and cheer. This joint venture from the University of Washington and Microsoft analyzes and compares against one another, photographs within a specific collection (like the Pantheon used in the example video), orbits are discovered from the viewpoints of the photos within the collection. From this point, paths can be created to allow 3D movement around the subject creating a virtual world unique unto itself. What has been created here is really quite amazing, and something I would love to see put into action; a great idea for using the Flickr API.
This would be really interesting if it were placed on a big multi-touch device, say… like Surface. I could really get into exploring buildings and locations using a multi-touch interface and a 3 foot square surface to view and navigate with. That would be something to behold. Museums could utilize this to allow visitors to view historical places in far greater detail with an amazing level of interactivity. I think I'm drooling…. It doesn't end here either. they are also using photographs to enhance video footage, the results here are equally as amazing. The CS department at the UW are working overtime on this stuff, and I have to say that I am definitely jealous of what they are working on compared to what was going on digitally when I was in college. Okay, that and this is a far bigger school than the little Art School I went to…..
Check out more information on this and other projects:
* based on statistics from 3 years ago and very loosely extrapolated.