Microsoft Teams Up With NASA To Offer 3-D Shuttle Views - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Teams Up With NASA To Offer 3-D Shuttle Views

The Photosynth technology stitches together thousands of individual photos to create a seamless, 3-D image that mimics virtual reality.

Microsoft has joined forces with NASA to give Internet users a three-dimensional tour of the space shuttle Endeavour as it sits on the launch pad at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

Thanks to a technology called Photosynth that Microsoft developed in concert with the University of Washington, online viewers can navigate through a 3-D environment that offers detailed views of Endeavour and its surroundings.

"NASA provided us with some outstanding images and the result is an experience that will wow anyone wanting to get a closer look at the Endeavour and its travels," said Blaise Aguera y Arcas, an architect at Microsoft Live Labs. Among other things, viewers can see Endeavour on the launch pad, space shuttle Atlantis in flight as it returns to the Space Center from California, and the interior and surrounding area of NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building -- the world's largest one-story structure.

Other areas available for viewing on Microsoft's Photosynth site include Venice's Piazza San Marco, the Grassi Lakes in the Canadian Rockies, and the Gary Faigin art studio in Seattle.

Photosynth works by stitching together thousands of individual photos of an area or object into a seamless, 3-D image that mimics virtual reality.

The technology has relatively steep hardware requirements, however. Microsoft says users need a graphics card capable of supporting Windows Vista's Aero interface, and a recommended 1 Gbyte of system memory to effectively run Photosynth.

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