We’ve been very busy in the last few months working hard on squashing bugs, improving our synther technology, evolving our viewer and building some community features for our website. We’re able to share some of that hard work with you today and promise to have more great features launching in the coming weeks. Some of the improvements affect things that happen in the background, so you might not notice them at first… but probably the biggest update we’re releasing today is an experimental cross-platform Silverlight viewer. The details on the new viewer and some of the other major new features can be found below. Happy synthing and thanks for supporting our efforts to create a truly useful, innovative and interactive photo experience.
New Experimental Cross-Platform Viewer
Our current Photosynth viewing experience uses a technology called Direct 3D, and makes sophisticated use of the graphics hardware on your computer. This approach has its advantages and disadvantages. If you have a recent Windows PC with up to date graphics drivers you’ll have a great experience, and you’ll be able to view synths with buttery smoothness. But lots of people have older machines, and many people have Macs, and none of these folks could view synths before now. Silverlight is cross-platform (PC and Mac) and works on most old machines as well as all new ones. This generality comes at a price though, and for now Photosynth’s Silverlight experience is a couple of steps behind our Direct 3D one.
Try It: Explore Synths in Silverlight
Most of the features in the Direct 3D viewer are implemented in the Silverlight viewer. In particular, the incredible zooming that Photosynth achieves via the Seadragon technology is now a major feature in Silverlight, and is known to the world as Deep Zoom. This means that even if you are viewing a synth of 300 10-megapixel images, every pixel in every photo is available to you at the flick of your mouse wheel. Very cool! Not so cool is the fact that Silverlight doesn’t currently have direct support for point clouds. Because we couldn’t achieve reasonable point cloud performance in Silverlight we decided to leave them out of this viewer until we can do them well, or replace them with some other way of visualizing the geometry.
More information about our Experimental Silverlight Viewer is here.
Site Feature Updates
Recent Activity on Profile Page
Login and view your profile area and you’ll see a new tab with the latest comments on your synths. This is the first step in helping you keep track of the activity on your synths and the ones you find interesting. You’ll soon be able to see updates on who favorites your synths and keep track of comments you’ve left on other members synths.
Find Related Synths on View Pages
People from around the world have been creating and uploading some pretty awesome synths and we want to make it easier for you to explore and find these great synths. On the view page of all synths you’ll now see a “Related” area in the bottom right corner that will display synths related to the one you’re viewing. Try it out here. (The more of your synths you tag, the better this feature will get)
View in True Full Screen
Because Photosynths are immersive experiences, we thought it was important to give you a true full-screen viewing option… and now you can. Once in in the synth world with your viewer in full screen, you might want tp use the viewer Keyboard Shortcuts to help you navigate around.
Improved Comment Flow
Synths can be quite interesting and we want to encourage conversation around the ideas and content shared in a synth. We’ve made some adjustments to the comments area to make it easier for you to participate in the flow of conversation around synths on the site. We already have some plans to improve the comments area even more… but don’t let that stop you from sharing your thoughts and comments right now..
We’ve added in the ability to wrap multiple words in quotes to get better search results for multi-word queries. For example, a search for “Smith Tower” will now give you better results of where Photosynth was born.
Fresh Featured Synths
There is a whole new collection of great synths on our homepage. Too many interesting, fun, creative and detailed synths have been created lately and we had the tough task of selecting only a handful to share on the homepage. We look forward to highlighting your next great synth on the homepage soon! View the new featured synths here.
Synther UpdatesThe brains behind the synthing technology have made some great improvements that I technically would do a very poor job of trying to explain… but the basics are that you should notice faster crunching of your images and better matching and synthy-ness percentage in your finished synth. You’ll really notice the improved speed if you have a multi-core machine… (The upload process can still take a while depending on your internet connection speed.)
As always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions.