Monday, October 30: 7:00 p.m.
Paul G. Allen Center, Microsoft Atrium

Photo Tourism and Photosynth: UW CSE, Microsoft Research, and Microsoft Live Labs Create a Winner

Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Photosynth Architect, Microsoft Live Labs
Noah Snavely, CSE Graphics and Imaging Lab, University of Washington
Rick Szeliski, Interactive Visual Media Group, Microsoft Research

Photosynth is an amazing new technology from Microsoft Live Labs that will change the way you think about digital photos. Photosynth takes a large collection of photos of a place or object, analyzes them for similarities, and displays them in a reconstructed 3-dimensional space.

Photosynth is a collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington. It began with groundbreaking Photo Tourism research by Noah Snavely (UW graduate student), Steve Seitz (UW faculty member), and Rick Szeliski (Microsoft Research). The new Microsoft Live Labs organization -- dedicated to advancing the state-of-the-art in Internet products and technology -- embraced the Photo Tourism technology and combined it with complementary photo browsing technology created by the team at Seadragon, a Madrona-backed Seattle startup headed by Blaise Aguera y Arcas that had been acquired by Live Labs.

The presentation of the Photo Tourism research and the rollout of the Photosynth prototype by Live Labs stole the show at the 2006 SIGGRAPH conference this past summer.

This talk will discuss the research and the collaboration, and demonstrate the amazing product.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas is an Architect in Microsoft Live Labs. Blaise has a broad background in computer science and applied math, and has been writing software for more than 20 years, with special emphasis on scientific computing, data analysis, machine learning, and graphics. He graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Physics in 1998, and he attended the PhD program there in Applied Math, advised by Ingrid Daubechies, known as one of the inventors of wavelets. In 2004, Blaise founded a software company originally named (rather opaquely) Sand Codex LLC, later Seadragon, Inc., to develop ideas in scalable architectures and user interfaces for interacting with large volumes of visual information, potentially over a narrow-bandwidth connection. Microsoft acquired Seadragon at the beginning of 2006.

Noah Snavely is a third-year graduate student in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He is interested in computer graphics and computer vision and is currently working with Steve Seitz and Rick Szeliski in affiliation with the Graphics and Imaging Laboratory. He is the recipient of an ARCS Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Rick Szeliski leads the Interactive Visual Media Group at Microsoft Research, the research arm of Microsoft Corporation. He also has an Affiliate Professor appointment in UW CSE. Rick's research is in the area of computer vision, the challenge of making computers see. His particular interests are in using vision to automatically build 3-D models from images, computational photography, and image-based rendering. He has worked on both traditional 3-D volumetric and surface model reconstruction, and on high-resolution image mosaic construction. He is also interested in using computer vision for human-computer interaction and for analysing image databases. He has additional research interests in geometric modeling, motion estimation, multiresolution algorithms and representations, and optimization algorithms.