Deep Zoom: proof that Microsoft is still capable of amazing technology

I can’t remember the last time a Microsoft technology demo knocked my socks off.  But yesterday, during a presentation for this year’s Imagine Cup, Microsoft’s Mark Taylor demonstrated the company’s Deep Zoom technology to appreciative gasps of admiration from the computing students present. And one demo-weary journalist.

Deep Zoom: proof that Microsoft is still capable of amazing technology

Taylor started with a web browser displaying a rather grainy photo of Paul McCartney’s signature:


So far so what? But then he zoomed out of the photo to reveal that the signature was actually a tiny detail on the foot of a Beatles figuerine:


And then he zoomed out once more to reveal the figuerines were actually a tiny detail in a photo of the Hrd Rock Cafe (they’re the small blue figures below the neon sign, between the suits):


Here’s where it started to get really good. The Hard Rock Cafe pic was just one tile of a 4×4 collage that formed a postage stamp:


And that stamp appeared in the corner of a letter, handwritten by Paul McCartney to Buddy Dresner, The Beatles’ bodyguard:


And just for good measure, we could zoom out one final time and read the handwritten letter penned by Macca himself, alongside the envelope:


All of this was done with breathtaking smoothness from a web browser, using a beta version of Microsoft’s Silverlight 2 technology. It’s clearly applying a little artistic licence – the stamp obviously wasn’t on the original letter – but it’s an utterly captivating way of presenting memorabilia that would otherwise have been presented as a dull series of Jpegs.

Go and try the demo for yourself at the Hard Rock Memorabilia site. If you’re like me and a bunch of very smart students, you can’t fail to be impressed.

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