Saturday, May 19, 2007

High Definition Viewer from Microsoft

Just a few days ago Microsoft released a Beta test version of their new utility called HD View. This viewer was developed by Microsoft Research's Interactive Visual Media group to aid in the display and interaction with very large images. Thus, it's not just a panoramic photography viewer but it is generally following the demand to visualise high resolution visuals over the web as well as the increasing resolutions of modern digital cameras. With this tool, displaying images of gigapixel resolution shouldn't be a big deal even in web-based applications.

Apart from the "on-the-fly" image loading capability (so that just the current view is loaded with the necessary level o details) for the panoramic photography branch the most unique and powerful feature of HD View is the zoom-dependent perspective transformation which is greatly reducing image distortions present with other current viewers.

As Microsoft research lab staff claims, it should:


  • allow smooth panning and zooming on large images,

  • only download enough data to create the current view (and possibly look ahead to the next), and

  • always display the current field of view with an appropriate projection. This means that when zoomed way in you should be presented with a standard perspective projection providing a sense of immersion, and when zoomed out you experience a curved projection so that get a full overview of the scene. In between the projection should smoothly transition.

  • Finally, it should be easy to create your own HD View content and present it to the world via the web.



The following video shows all the main features of this new viewer:





At the moment HD View is an ActiveX browser component, thus the first time you use it you will be asked to install it. It also only runs in Internet Explorer under the MS Windows. Hopefully there will be more support for other browsers and operating systems added in the future versions of HD View. Microsoft also announced that the tone adjustment functionality (very usefull for huge images that typically has very deep dynamic range) will be released in a new version soon.

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