January 7, 2015

The Rapidly Changing World of Images: Hyperlapse, Photosynth, & Oculus Rift

Capturing moments has always been an integral part of humanity. From the early days of carvings in the caves to paintings and sketches to photography and video, humans have always used imagery to make sense of the world around them, tell stories, and communicate ideas. Like humanity itself, moment capturing has also evolved along the way and a whole new way of capturing these moments is already here.

Now, videos are great to share moments, but our daily lives are not scripted or directed, which means a 1 hour video of us visiting Niagara Falls might not be that exciting to watch for an hour in front of a screen. Enter time lapse, a common and simple concept where you dramatically speed up the video. This is great, except making moving pictures faster results in shaky video, which is not great to watch. The tech industry has come up with a solution called hyperlapse, which adds in stabilization. Instagram added this technique to its app.

Instagram Hyperlapse

Instagram has been quick to get the feature out into the market and into the hands of its customer. As you can see in the Vimeo video embedded below, Hyperlapse gives users a pretty sophisticated way of creating professional-looking time lapse videos.

Introducing Hyperlapse from Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.


Microsoft Hyperlapse & Photosynth

What Instagram and the native camera app on iOS have done is pretty impressive, but I feel for reliving moments we can do one better. Microsoft is not far behind Instagram with something that I think may be a bit more advanced. So far what we have seen are moments from a single point of view. This is what Microsoft Research’s Johanes Kopf does in the hyperlapse video embedded below.

Now, imagine the moment taken from every point of view possible and being able to take all of that information and break it down and build it back up as one entity. You would be able to create a moment from multiple inputs, which is what Microsoft is doing with their Photosynth 3D application.

You can also see this Photosynth example of the Ghostbusters car, or this flight to Everest to get a sense for the kind of visual story-telling PhotoSynth enables. Add in a virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift and you will be able to get back in the moment and control the point of view as well.

It’s almost like how Sherlock Holmes replays moments in his mind in the recent movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. Now we can do that in reality and not just with our own thoughts. You can also walk around Times Square while everything around you moves at hyper speed. Maybe you like tourism and want to visit Niagara Falls while you are having lunch at your office, or visit the art gallery in another city. The potential for usage is endless, and while surely it doesn’t match a real-life experience that combines all the senses, it still can be used pretty effectively to share and relive those moments.