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An image from Seadragon's demo begins to come into focus

As the image is centered, more detail is revealed

More detail is added without any artifacts or scaling
Microsoft's newest tech purchase might qualify as one of the most intriguing image manipulation browsers yet

Have you ever sat and waited (and waited) while your Google Maps reloads the image as you scroll in?  A new technology called Seadragon might change all that -- at least for Microsoft products. 

Seadragon is a neat little technology where users run a streaming client that allows them to view images of much larger images, constantly scaling and scrolling on demand.  Google Maps uses Javascript to load progressively larger resolution tiles of images.  Seadragon, on the other hand, uses a client to constantly focus and defocus a JPG image on demand, without transmitting the whole image.  As the Seadragon demo shows, the client software focuses the image for an effect similar to what you might experience while looking through an adjusting microscope. 

Seadragon's WMP demo (viewable here) demonstrates a 118 megapixel image dance around the terminal on a 500 kilobit per second connection.  The set of images to the right are screen captures from the Seadragon demo of a high quality scan coming into focus.  The image does not abrubtly scale or rerender. 

Several blogs are reporting that this technology has been picked up by Microsoft, although the official announcement hasn't been made yet -- though another Microsoft employee blogs about the aquisition here.   After Google Maps effectively replaced Microsoft's Terraserver overnight, don't be surprised if we see this technology show up in Microsoft's next generation mapping software. 





"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg



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