Interacting with Interactive media

Two things ended up on my computer screen this morning re: our growing interactive media industry. The first was an article in today’s Seattle Times about Photosynth, a new program from Microsoft that lets you combine multiple photos into a single 360 degree, 3-D rendering called a ‘synth’. According to the Times article, Photosynth is:

software that arranges photo sets in their real-world, 3-D context and allows people to navigate smoothly around the canals of Venice, for example, or zoom in to read the serial numbers on the space shuttle’s heat shields.

Micorosft says you can create a synth with as few as 10 photos or up to 300. It takes about 5 minutes to create one using a moderately powerful computer; big synths take a few hours. To show how far the technology has come: the Times reports that two years ago, creating a big synth would’ve taken a cluster of computers a day and a half.

This is an excellent illustration of our region’s abilities when it comes to Interactive Media, a subset of the IT industry. It’s been said that the interactive media industry, of which video games are a large part, is bigger than the movie industry. A study by Community Attributes for enterpriseSeattle found that over 150 companies, employing over 15,000 people, have annual revenues in excess of $4.2 billion in this industry in our region. That’s huge.

The second thing that came by my desk was an a notice of enterpriseSeattle‘s annual economic forecast lunch, which is highlighting this dynamic industry. Panelists include representatives from Sony Online entertainment, Hidden Path Entertainment, Microsoft and Nintendo. Tickets are $55 and probably worth every penny if you get to see some of the amazing things these studios are working on. Like Photosynth.

Finally, a post like this cannot go without mentioning that one of the real drivers in this industry is the research being performed by the UW’s Computer Science and Engineering department.

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