I saw an absolutely fascinating new piece of technology this morning from Microsoft Live Labs called Photosynth. It takes a large collection of photos of a location or an object and analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed three-dimensional space. It is based on another new technology called Seadragon that lets you scale images of any size and resolution with amazingly smooth motion and speed.
I know it hard to visualize so check out the tour and then download the tech demo. You should also check out this talk given by Photosynth’s architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, at the TED conference where he shows it off.
Once you have the demo up and running you can see the 3D model made up of hundreds of dots and each of which represents a photo from the collection that has been mapped on to the model. You can click or fly through a scene to see photos from any angle in a very seamlessly zoom in or out of every photo no matter the file size. You can also turn on the camera cones to see where pictures were taken in relation to one another which is interesting because the groupings show you areas of interest. If the 3D model becomes too much you can see the photos in a contact page style layout and then click on photos of interest to see where they fall on the model.