Home First Microsoft iPhone App? Seadragon Mobile

First Microsoft iPhone App? Seadragon Mobile

Users of Microsoft Office on the Mac may be a little dubious of trying any other applications that Microsoft releases for Apple platforms. But the first Microsoft app released for the iPhone may be a different story. Meet Seadragon, an app that allows users to quickly zoom into extremely high resolution – “giga-pixel” – images.

Get your “pinch” technique ready. With Seadragon, you’re going to have the opportunity to zoom into art, historical images, maps, NASA images, and more.

Seadragon is actually an underlying technology, designed to support services like Photosynth that require dealing with massive amounts of image data. Its ultimate goal is quite lofty, to say the least:

“The aim of Seadragon is nothing less than to change the way we use screens, from wall-sized displays all the way down to cell phones, so that graphics and photos are smoothly browsed, regardless of the amount of data or the bandwidth of the network.”

If you’ve never seen Seadragon in action, I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch a video of Blaise Aguera y Arcas demoing the Seadragon technology at TED. The technology is quite astounding – and its potential applications are even moreso. The iPhone app brings that same feeling of power – and possibility – into the palm of your hand.

But the question remains, why the iPhone? Why not some Windows Mobile device? In a word, hardware. According to Alex Daley, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs, the iPhone has a graphics processing unit that enabled the Seadragon team to deliver an app that would have been much more difficult to build on other handsets.

While the initial app is only a demonstration of the technology, it’s well worth spending some time using it. And as you’re zooming into distant galaxies or considering minute details of historical documents, take a moment to appreciate how quickly it’s all happening.

Seadragon Mobile is available from the App Store for free.

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