Last year there was an incredible presentation at TED which featured a demonstration of Seadragon, a technology that Microsoft licensed and has continued to develop.
Whilst the BBC and others have been using the Seadragon spinoff Photosynth quite effectively, Seadragon itself seems to have the most immediate use within the cultural sector with our large volume of 2D digitised resources.
Seadragon was intended to deliver on four promises for image navigation –
1. Speed of navigation is independent of the size or number of objects.
2. Performance depends only on the ratio of bandwidth to pixels on the screen.
3. Transitions are smooth as butter.
4. Scaling is near perfect and rapid for screens of any resolution.
At the time Juha from Museumlab asked whether it would be possible to implement this sort of rapid visual zooming and navigation technology in a museum collection. Well, of all places, the Hard Rock Cafe has done so with some of their memorabilia collection.
Over at the Cafe they have used Flash-competitor Silverlight to deliver a very smooth zooming experience across the collection and each collection object retains a unique identifier and can be addressed with a unique URL.