Play Games With Photosynth

November 30, 2009

I really like Sherlock Holmes.  A lot.  A lot a lot.  In fact, if there was anything I am more excited about than cool zooming technology and art pieces, it would be the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

Imagine my surprise that those two worlds could possibly collide, the ejecta of which would form a collaborative game where you and a Facebook pal investigate crimes surrounding the events leading up to the the movie.

Played entirely through your browser, you’ll sift through clues and evidence to get to the bottom of mysteries as you play detective.  Part of that experience will center around the following synth:


So if that sounds like your particular cup of tea, head on over to http://www.221b.sh/.  You’ve got until the movie releases in theaters on December 25th.

Kevin Hanes


Developers Developers Developers (and some other stuff too)

November 18, 2009

It’s PDC this week, so we thought we’d take the time and update our website.  If you’re interested in using Seadragon technology, we’ve added a developer section to get you up to speed on things like Silverlight Deep Zoom, Seadragon Ajax and various ways to convert your images to our format.

If that sounds like your sort of thing, take a look.  If you have questions, comments, gripes, complaints, or needs for clarification, let us know, we’d love to hear from you about those or anything else on your mind.

Another addition of note is that we’ve finally gotten around to creating a showcase page of cool things built on top of our stuff.  We’ve got oldies-but-goldies like Photosynth as well as some new offerings, such as a new Chris Jordan gallery.  Take it for a spin:


Kevin Hanes


Another Funky Side Project

November 10, 2009

Here at Seadragon we are all about pimping cool zooming technology and developments.  From time to time however, we like to release fun little one-offs into the wild and see what response we get.  In the same spirit as our first “Funky Side Project”, Infinite Canvas, I submit for your consideration Snapdragon.


Initially showing a handful of the most recent, popular Flickr tags, we take the opportunity to pull random words from wordie.org for you to explore as well.  Click on words to see photos tagged as such and click on photos to see their tags.  You can also hit the auto play button and let serendipity take you where it may.

Snapdragon is written entirely in JavaScript (similar to Infinite Canvas and Seadragon Ajax), moving and resizing HTML images and text to give the impression of zooming.

UPDATE: Wordie.org has merged with Wordnik.com, so we’re now using Wordnik in Snapdragon.

Kevin Hanes


An Infinite Canvas by Any Other Name

October 28, 2009

Back when Ian created Infinite Canvas, he did so because the technology that he wanted to use simply didn’t exist.  It was a combination of not being able to find the right tool to create an infinite-canvas-style comic and the desire to apply Seadragon’s philosophy to an interesting, albeit niche, space.

Artist Donato Sansone came across the same problem when he tried to create an infinite canvasy, flip-animation… thing.  His response was to create a flip-book of truly epic (or room-sized) proportions and video himself making the magic happen.  I’ve been told that this video contains some disturbing artwork, but the first time I watched it, I hardly noticed over the sound of how awesome it was.


Kevin Hanes


Seadragon Philosophy: The User Never Waits

October 18, 2009

As you are probably aware,  Seadragon’s schtick is zooming technology and user interface experiments.  We have also done some work in creating design patterns to help with best practices and interaction.  Here in the office we also talk a lot about how to apply a third idea to our projects: a Seadragon philosophy.   In fact, our technologies (Silverlight Deep Zoom, Seadragon Mobile, Seadragon Ajax, etc) can all be seen as manifestations of our philosophy; our vision brought to reality through design and technology.   In this vein I thought I’d post about this technological coda, instead of code, in a series of posts from time to time.

One of the core tenets of our philosophy is that the user should never have to wait for the technology.  Though a simple idea, take a moment to think about all of the times you’ve wanted to do something on a computer and been unable until it finished whatever task it was working on.  Moving email, loading a document or image, starting a program, a piece of software locking up; all of these things cause you to wait.  In Seadragon, we try to make every experience wait-free.

One way to think about the user never waiting is that the UI thread is never blocked. Even in the middle of a lengthy process, we’re still accepting and responsive to user input. This is expressed in Seadragon by allowing you to zoom and pan constantly, even when we haven’t loaded all of the imagery for the current view. In addition, we try to give you something to work with as soon as possible, so even while we’re waiting for the high-res data, we load a little low-res data to show in the meantime.  You always have something to look at and you always have control.

Kevin Hanes


Photosynth Next

October 9, 2009

There’s a special place in my heart for Photosynth.  I feel like it’s a sibling that left the house and damnit, is going to live however it wants.  Our teams used to be one, working side by side to deliver glorious experiences, and are now separated by a massive gulf on the org chart.  In any case, I like what they have done, and continue to do.

Speaking of which, they’ve introduced a cool new feature in their latest update, the overhead view.  They turn off images, take you up top and show you the point cloud in all of its glory.  I’d talk more about it, but David Gedye says it much better than I possibly could in the video below.  Listen to what he has to say, and check out their blog post for some additional information and smaller features.

Another exciting development in the Photosynth-o-sphere (yeah, I went there), is cool tech from GRAIL, the University of Washington department that helped with the original Photosynth code.  They’ve tweaked the algorithm used to match photos to make it much faster and able to handle more than a few hundred or thousand images.  The result is simply stunning, synths of entire cities instead of individual scenes or monuments.  Check it out:

Kevin Hanes


Hello Monday

September 28, 2009

It is not often that a portfolio site stands out to me, there is usually a lot of  “been-there-seen-that” evident.  It is rarer still that an outstanding portfolio is also in some way related to the Seadragon universe, even tangentially.  In the case of the site Hello Monday, we’ve got a whole lotta “awesome” at work.

Hello Monday

The entire portfolio is laid out on an infinite, scrolling, vertical, canvas that you can navigate with click and drag, or the mouse wheel.  As you mouse over individual items, they lose their sepia tones and acquire full color for emphasis, letting you interact with them more fully.  A single click to one of the portfolio items will zoom you in for larger imagery and greater detail into the nature of the project.  Another click will send you back out to the full portfolio.

There are a lot of nice touches to this site, from the springs on scrolling, to the smooth transitions between zoom states and the sepia toning.  My favorite bit has to be the intro screen that’s been designed to give visitors to the site an idea of how to putter around the site using click and drag.  It’s a simple thing, but an important one to help get users in the right mindset.  Oh, and the random whale hanging out on top is pretty fun.  Check it out.

Kevin Hanes