Okay.. I tweeted this.. So I better elaborate here in my blog.
Currently I am in Seattle attending an internal Microsoft technology training event called “TechReady” (this is “TechReady 7”, for those of you counting). I think all the cool tech I saw demonstrated yesterday has entered my dreams. I woke up early this morning because of a really amazing dream. I dreamt about a photo technology that surprised me at how cool it was. Now.. I know that Microsoft is working on something similar (“Photosynth” – http://labs.live.com/photosynth/ – though I didn’t see anything about it yesterday), but what was fun about my dream was that I kind of stumbled upon this new feature in the digital camera I was using in my dream.
In the dream I was taking photos of the house I grew up in. (Don’t over-analyze that bit. I’m sure it means something, but I really don’t care what it is.) I walked around it and took pictures from various angles. Then when I was done, I looked at the screen on the camera to review a photo.. and I found that as I was zooming in and out, and moving left to right and back again, that the objects such as bushes or trees started moving relative to my viewing position. So.. I’m zooming in, then around and seeing other views that weren’t part of the original photo I thought I was looking at. Right before my eyes, it became a 3-D, interactive picture with the photos I had taken actually becoming the “skin” on 3-D rendered objects.. so you could navigate through and around the picture. My camera had decided to compile the photos I had taken, find the similar portions, and compose this 3-D rendering for me. Automatically.
And in my dream, when I realized what I was seeing and experiencing, I laughed. I have a certain laugh that is a result of seeing some new, exciting technology for the first time. It happened to me a couple years ago when I saw that Photosynth technology for the first time. I laughed that same laugh yesterday when I saw other new and exciting products coming out from Microsoft.
What was funny also to me in the dream was that I was experiencing an unexpected, unanticipated new feature of something that I already owned. My camera just did this rendering for me automatically. Have you ever had that experience where a software update to some device adds new functionality to it? – even functions that you never expected but were waaay cool once you learned about them (or stumbled upon them)? I have. Does anyone else here remember last year when Microsoft not only put out new the Zune devices, but also automatically upgraded the firmware for the original Zunes to match much of the new software’s functionality? And what about XBOX updates? I’ve also experienced it on phones; in the rare instance where my phone hardware that originally came with one version of Windows Mobile was also a candidate for upgrade to the next version.
Here’s the deal: It’s the realization of the power of a supportive hardware platform driven by SOFTWARE that can be extended with new features and functionality. So why should I (or any of us) be surprised if this kind of upgrade-ability becomes a reality on other devices that I/we use?
An aside: This is one of the reasons why I’m so glad I work for a company that can actually make a lot of this coolness happen for people.
UPDATE: I messed up the link to Photosynth in the original post. It’s fixed now. Thanks for the note, Jean-Guillaume!