Seadragon begets Silverlight “Deep Zoom”

There’s a headline that might baffle…

Seadragon Inc was a Seattle-based software company who had done a load of work on handling vast quantities of imagery and being able to manipulate the data in real-time, on-screen. Microsoft acquired Seadragon and has been beavering away behind the scenes to finesse the technology further and to integrate it into other means of delivery – if you haven’t seen it, check out the awesome demo done by Blaise Aguera y Arcas at last year’s TED conference:

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar. "Perhaps the most amazing demo I’ve seen this year," wrote Ethan Zuckerman, after TED2007. Indeed, Photosynth might utterly transform the way we manipulate and experience digital images.

Well, the Seadragon technology gets closer to being available as part of Silverlight 2.0 Beta 1, now referred to as "Deep Zoom". It was announced recently at Mix08, and I must have missed the significance of this piece but when I saw the first Deep Zoom demo site, I thought "Wow".

One of the demos at the Mix08 conference in Vegas last week, was of a pretty amazing site put up by Hard Rock Cafe, showcasing some of the rock memorabilia they have – mosey over to and you’ll get prompted to install Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 if you want.


The Hard Rock site was built from the ground up in one month, and contains many gigabytes of visual imagery. Not that you’d notice when you visit for the first time having installed Silverlight 2.0…

The back end of the Memorabilia site uses Sharepoint for its content management, although the front end is all custom in Silverlight. There was a parallel announcement at MIX about the Silverlight Blueprint for Sharepoint, more details here.

No more to say about this other than it’s really, really, cool. Combine the early delivery of stuff like the Hard Rock Cafe demo site, with Blaise’s idea in the TED Video about how this technology could be used to present information in a non-linear way – imagine being able to zoom into the full stop at the end of a sentence to get pages and pages more detail about what the sentence contained – and the future way that web pages could be delivered to us might be very different from the linear, monolithic way a lot of information is presented today.

Exciting, isn’t it?

More info on "Deep Zoom:


Deep Zoom composer tool preview

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