Photosynth fans overload capacity
When Microsoft introduced consumers to Photosynth last week, many of them were greeted by error messages and crashes.
Microsoft's PhotosynthPhotosynth takes a collection of digital images, such as this National Geographic shoot of Stonehenge, and arranges them in their real-world, 3-D context. The Microsoft software calculates the camera's position for each image and finds features the photos share in common. A viewer can browse the photos in this three-dimensional reconstruction, below, navigating from one image to the next and smoothly zooming in on tiny details. Microsoft released a free online service Wednesday allowing individuals to create and view their own "synths."
Get "synthy"Photo collections in which all of the images fit together are 100 percent "synthy." Here's how to do it:
Shoot: Using any off-the-shelf digital camera, shoot lots of overlapping photos of an object or scene, specifically for Photosynth. Don't just throw every photo on your computer into the system. Start with wide-angle shots, moving around to cover the whole subject. Then take closer, detail images. Subjects with lots of texture do best.
Upload: Microsoft's Photosynth.com Web site allows users with a Windows Live ID to create a free account. To create and view "synths," you'll need to download an 8-megabyte piece of software. From there it's a straightforward process of naming the "synth" and assigning copyrights to your photos, if desired. The program does the rest in a process that can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the number and size of the photo collection.
More info: Microsoft has a how-to video and a nine-page photography guide with much more detail. It's available at Photosynth.com.
Green electronicsIn a recent survey, 63 percent of mainstream tech-product consumers said they were concerned about the environmental impact of electronic products, compared with 50 percent of early adopters.
Source: The Diffusion Group
Like the demo that fails at a high-profile industry event, the new product overwhelmed at launch is fast becoming a tech cliché.
The iPhone 3G, the Cuil search engine and ... now ... Photosynth.
When Microsoft introduced consumers to Photosynth last week, many of them were greeted by error messages and crashes. They had been eager to try the new technology, which turns a collection of photos of a certain scene or object into a three-dimensional context and allows the user to navigate fluidly through the images.
The Photosynth team posted a blog note that gave some insight: "Getting ready for the launch we did massive amounts of performance testing, built capacity model after capacity model, and yet with all of that, you threw so much traffic our way that we need to add more capacity. We are adding that extra horsepower right now and should be back up shortly."
The site did go back up a few hours later on late Thursday afternoon and was accepting "synths" — collections of photos for processing on the site — by that evening.
In all 286,689 images were uploaded to the site in the first 24 hours.
High on high-def
We could hardly miss Blu-ray when we dropped in at our local Blockbuster the other night. Racks of Blu-ray titles had replaced rows of aging DVDs. A flat-screen TV nearby played a movie in Blu-ray. Signs with the increasingly familiar Blu-ray logo on them were in high evidence at the store.
With the format battle having been decided — Blu-ray over HD DVD by knockout — and the price of Blu-ray players descending to sea level, it looks like the high-definition video disc may be gaining traction.
That's the conclusion of Futuresource Consulting in its latest Blu-ray update for the U.S. and Western Europe. It said in a release that the consensus is that 45 million Blu-ray discs will be sold in the U.S. by year's end, up 400 percent over last year.
Among "big titles," Blu-ray versions now make up about 5 to 6 percent of sales. By the fourth quarter — the quarter that includes the all-important holiday season — that could reach 10 or even 12 percent among "the really big hitters," Futuresource said.
By 2012, the consultancy projects, the retail value of Blu-ray will outweigh DVDs by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent.
More evidence that cellphone in your hand is really more a computer than a latter-day descendant of Alexander Graham Bell's creation:
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed software that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to use sign language over a mobile phone.
One key to the project was to get video images of a person using American Sign Language at a low resolution that could be handled by the often low data-transmission rates on U.S. cell networks. The team also used phones from Europe because they could handle the software and had the camera and the screen on the same side.
What the researchers developed was a way to transmit a person's face and hands in high resolution and the background in low-res. It's now working on ways to reduce battery consumption and processing power when the person isn't signing.
"A lot of people are excited about this," said principal investigator Eve Riskin, a UW professor of electrical engineering. It allows deaf people or those who are hard of hearing to go beyond text messages, the way they now communicate on cellphones.
The researchers recently won a National Science Foundation grant for a field project next year in Seattle.
On the record
Partnership: Office Depot has selected Seattle-based Hubspan to provide an on-demand integration platform to handle suppliers and business customers.
Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or email@example.com.
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.