HD View is a technology from Microsoft Research, merging pyramidic/pyramidal (mutiple layers with different pixel counts) viewing technology introduced by the likes of Zoomify with panoramic viewing today offered by viewers implemented in QTVR, Java and Flash. Microsoft have also addressed the issues arising from the perspective projection used by current panoramic viewers, which are especially obvious with wide-angle QTVR cubic panoramas. These problems make the viewing experience sometimes feel like a drunken stagger or LSD trip rather than a virtual reality experience. The HD View team implemented a smooth interpolation between perspective and curved (spherical) projections with the center of the view as an anchor. The speed and smoothness of the viewing is truly impressive even in the Beta version of the viewer, mainly because only the pixels being viewed are being pulled from the server.
This image of the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) shows how revolutionary the "gigapixel" technology is. It lets you explore large objects on your computer screen (and later possibly from your armchair on a high definition television screen) as has never been possible before. It's hard to image how this viewing experience could be achieved with any other medium. Having lived in Berlin when the wall came down I must confessed I have never experienced the graffiti on the wall with this ease and completeness.
Speaking of walls, shouldn't it be possible to extend the technology to look through walls? This could be interesting for hotels where you can zoom into the lobby and the rooms from the outside.
Currently the HD View plug-in works only with IE on Windows XP, Server 2003 and Vista. Here's hoping we'll have the it working with different browsers and platforms soon.