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Got Gigabytes of Photos? UM Software Offers Fast, Easy & Free Navigation

Got Gigabytes of Photos? UM Software Offers Fast, Easy & Free Navigation

Got Gigabytes of Photos? UM Software Offers Fast, Easy & Free Navigation

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Compiling digital images has never been easier. We take them with cell phones and digital cameras, get them through emails from family and friends and download them from the Internet. However, keeping up with a vast and ever growing library of images is anything but easy.

Ben Bederson, director of the University of Maryland's pioneering Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, understands this challenge -- his own digital library has nearly 10,000 images of family, friends and colleagues. And he has a great solution that he loves to demonstrate: fast and easy software that he and graduate student Hyunmo Kang developed, known as PhotoMesa. On March 7, Bederson's company Windsor Interfaces will offer the newest and fastest version of PhotoMesa (version 3.1) to the public for free. Previous versions were sold for $25. March 7 also marks the awarding of a U.S. Patent on one of PhotoMesa's key features.

"This is great software for browsing or searching digital photos that is unlike anything else out there," said Bederson.

He explained that by making PhotoMesa available for free, Windsor Interfaces is joining a growing trend that he hopes will put this unique program in the hands of many more people, while also providing the company a better chance to grow. More companies are making software products freely available on the Web because in recent years advertising has become a more viable alternative to sales as a source of revenue," Bederson said.

According to Bederson, PhotoMesa 3.1 has two features that make it easy and fun to use. The first is a zoomable image browser that allows a user to zoom in and out on any image at the click of a button. A huge number of images can be quickly scanned because PhotoMesa displays on the screen all the images in a file or from a search. And as the cursor passes over a thumbnail image, a larger version of that picture appears.

"This helps people find a photo quickly even if it is unlabeled or they don't know exactly what they are looking for," Bederson said. "Movement is ultra-fast because it eliminates mouse clicks or keyboard taps required in other photo organizers."

The second, and newly patented, feature allows direct annotation of individual photos and of individuals in photos that makes labeling photos far easier than in caption-based systems. "For example, with this feature, a user can take names from a list of family and friends and drag them right onto the chest of people in a photo," Bederson explained. The program thereafter associates that name with that person in that image. This makes it possible to see the names as you scan photos with the zoomable feature or to search the whole database to find every photo in which this person appears.

Two other unique products developed by HCIL's Bederson are available for free from Windsor Interfaces. They are DateLens, a unique calendar interface for PCs and Pocket PCs and NoteLens.

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