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 now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.