WebVisions 2011 Keynote: Read/Write World

PORTLAND—When I was young my grandpa used to ask me, “What did you learn today?” It’s a great question, and a reminder to learn something new each and every day. Which isn’t a problem when listening to Blaise Agüera y Arcas of Bing Mobile and Places speak about his compelling work with visual data.

Speaking to a packed house at WebVisions 2011 in the Oregon Convention Center this morning, Agüera y Arcas introduced photosynth technology to the audience and explained how he’s working the mashed up 3D-like photo data into Microsoft’s search engine.

Agüera y Arcas explained that geo-bound spaces (like architecture or waterfalls) are good for synths, and how with synths, “mapping the world becomes a collective activity.”

In the beginning, Agüera y Arcas and his team were surprised by how many people were making aerial photosynths. All of a sudden we had “lots of spatially connected images,” said Agüera y Arcas. The challenge, of course, is how best to make use of all the incoming data. He does work at Microsoft; thus, a commercial application for the data is something that’s important to the enterprise. On that note, I can easily see how this technology might be adapted by a brand. Online treasure hunt, anyone?

During the Q+A session at the end of his talk, one member of the audience asked about Agüera y Arcas’s interest in incorporating temporal data. “That’s exactly the sort of mashup we’re hoping to enable,” said Agüera y Arcas. For instance, a construction site changes form radically in a short period of time, so adding temporal data to a photosynth would be key to understanding the build.

Bonus link: Find synths on Bing Maps.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.