A friend of mine just pointed out this breathtaking demo video of a program called Photosynth. The demo was given at TED two months ago. It’s just under 8 minutes long, and I promise it’s worth your time. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see:

Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar. “Perhaps the most amazing demo I’ve seen this year,” wrote Ethan Zuckerman, after TED2007. Indeed, Photosynth might utterly transform the way we manipulate and experience digital images.

It’s good to see Microsoft doing something really interesting and innovative. Or, in this case, at least buying something really interesting and innovative. Even if it ran on Linux before it was purchased, and now only runs on Windows. Hmm. Well, anyhow, props to Microsoft for snapping this one up. It’s an absolutely amazing piece of technology.