February, 2009 - Microsoft PixelSense Blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
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  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Newsreader on Microsoft Surface


    I've got a new application to share with you today. It's a news reader that our team just released to our Microsoft Surface partners and customers last week as a sample. It allows people to browse news and videos from MSNBC.com using the 360 degree interface of Microsoft Surface. Jocelyn Dollar, the PM on the project, joined me to demo this app in the video below. Check it out.

    - Eric

  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Geotagging follow up

    Bogdan GPS

    Now that you’ve seen my photo geotagging application posted here last December, I am following up with some more details about geotagging in general and details around my app. In today’s post I’ll also try to summarize the answers to the most common questions I got in the past regarding my geotagging app.   


    First, question – how do I geotag photos?


    Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. This data usually consists of latitude and longitude coordinates, though it can also include altitude, bearing, accuracy data, and place names.” (-Wikipedia-)


    While the definition above is straightforward, it is not easy to envision how one can geotag photos (especially older photos which are sitting on your computer in your “shoebox” folder for quite a while) without owning one of the latest GPS enabled photo cameras or smart phones which will do the magic for you. One of the most used geotagging method is by populating the EXIF metadata GPS fields in a jpg file. The population of these fields can be done using different online utilities which will extract the GPS data from a file containing a GPS track and write it into the fields. By now, is becoming obvious that in order to geotag photos you’ll need a GPS navigation device which can generate tracks, a photo camera and a software utility which can read data from the tracks and populate the EXIF fields of your photos once both the content and the tracks are transferred to your computer. In order to get accurate pairing up of the GPS data from the tracks with the photos, you’ll have to make sure that both clocks on the photo camera and on the GPS device are in sync. I agree that this process is a bit cumbersome and that explains why geotagging is not (yet) widely adopted; this being said, with the new line of GPS enabled cameras and cell phones with cameras, things will change considerably in the near future and at some point most of the generated personal photo content will be geotagged when the picture is taken. At this point you might ask – what about the older photos? Well, for those ones I use a small app (like “Pro Photo Tools” from Microsoft) which can tag the pictures manually or different photo hosting websites which offer geotagging as a feature for online photo albums.


    So how did you come up with this approach of geotagging on Surface?

    Like most of the people who own a digital camera, I have taken thousands of photos every year from the places I travel or at different family events. The pictures tend to add up over the years and soon I found myself having over 10GB of photos. At this volume, it is difficult to create dynamic albums of pictures I took over the years in the same vacation area to see the changes over time or even just find my daughters pictures taken on her birthday a few years back. Things started to fall in place after a friend of mine introduced me to geocaching few years back and I bought a portable GPS device. Soon, I started thinking of how an interactive display system could help with my problem and I started working on a app, adding new features from time to time.


    As you can see in one of Eric’s video postings from last year, today my app is working in an end to end scenario where the user is placing the Wi-Fi GPS enabled camera on Surface, pictures get downloaded for selection and once the selection is completed the photos fall in the right position on the underlying map. For older photos which were not geotagged yet, the user can select them, move them to the right position and gently push them down in the right location. The time stamp selection works by selecting day, month and year parameters from a set of sliders and the content over the map gets filtered based on that. And the part I like the most is that, as you can see in the video, most of the interaction is done through gestures (e.g. drag, zoom, selection, help, etc).


    So, what’s next?

     Well, I don’t know yet J. This whole world of geotagged digital media (and I’m talking about more than just photos: music, videos, etc) is very effervescent and presents great new opportunities for cool applications, especially in the context of Surface-like devices. I already have some basic ideas for my next pet project and some new additions to my geotagging app, so stay tuned for some new videos in the near future. J 



  • Microsoft PixelSense Blog

    Stimulant labs mashup with XRay of an iPhone with Microsoft Surface


    Want to see something cool? Stimulant, who previously brought us the Wii balance board mashup, shows us yet again they have no shortage of imagination. This time, they were inspired by the Microsoft Research project, Second Light. The basic premise is that the iPhone allows the user to see through the image on Microsoft Surface's screen into additonal imagery or data - or allow the user to capture an image and take it with them. Not to be left out, this is also working on phones running Windows Mobile and Android. Hats off to Josh, Darrin and the rest of the crew at Simulant for always thinking outside the box.. literally.

    Stimulant: XRay from Stimulant on Vimeo.
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February, 2009