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Microsoft’s 10-Gigapixel Photo

Microsoft is looking to create a system that can take skyline photos, that is, straight-on, zero-degree photos that show cities just as you’d see them from a hotel window. Microsoft Research is trying to get it done, making a system that can take hundreds of digital photos, stith them together, and compensate for environmental changes, creating single photos with 4-10 billion pixels, and distributed pictures that can contain tens of billions of pixels.

The Live Local team is so smart about this. Yes, Research is working on it, but they’ll be the beneficiaries if it pays off. Microsoft’s goal seems to be to beat Google by including more views than anyone else is even thinking of. If this works, Live Local users will have:

  • Map view
  • Ariel/Satellite view (what you’d see from space)
  • Bird’s Eye view (3/4 views, showing buildings in from above and the side, giving a better sense of depth and distance, what you’d see from a helicopter)
  • Street view (what you’d see from a car on the street)
  • Skyline view (what you’d see from a window)

I’m just waiting for them to point one of those car cams up, and give us “Tourist view”. Seriously, they are coming up with great ways to extend the service, and eventually, people are going to realize that in many respects, Live Local is beating Google Maps on interface and features.

Michael Cohen, a scientist at Microsoft Research, is trying to create a photo this summer that will contain 10 billion pixels.

He’s already done 4-gigapixel shots of downtown Seattle.

Cohen’s work, dubbed Big Panoramas, is an attempt to marry Internet mapping and high-resolution photography. With 4 billion or 10 billion pixels, a single photograph will contain several square miles of real estate in accurate detail. In the Seattle photo, users can zoom in on windows on different buildings, or zoom out to get a view of the entire skyline.

The end result is something akin to the satellite images on services like Google Earth. The difference is that the angle is more familiar. The pictures provide the panorama you might see staring out of a window on a building, or from standing on the sidewalk. Satellite images capture only the unfamiliar bird’s-eye views of rooftops.

The camera is not held by a person. It sits in a motorized rig and the angle of the rig and camera are controlled by a computer.

(via Bink)

May 5th, 2006 Posted by | General, Google, Live, Local, Windows | no comments

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