The BEST Interactive Image Interfaces on the Web

img Clockr small To create this list we have been looking at dozens of data visualization, image mapping and picture mosaic solutions plus piles of descriptions. To make the list most useful we came up with the following criteria for the tools:

  • Should be online and actively maintained by the site owner
  • Should be interactive
  • Should use photos / images for visualization
  • Should use online data

We’ve seen many great projects and fantastic work that has been done but is not being updated anymore. Also there are quite a few stand-alone solutions that require to install software packages on your computer, do some development or create your own databases. Others just exist as screen shots.

All those we have not included but we are happy to point you to them.

While we were working on the list it became clear that there are some excellent projects that provide similar solutions so we clustered the results as following:

  • Web Search including Social Networks
  • Art and Beautiful
  • Flickr
  • Amazon
  • News
  • Virtual Worlds and Maps

We tried out all the sites ourselves. In our opinion there is a lot of potential for new solutions in some of these fields and they are evolving quickly.


screenshots and links after the jump





We will introduce each of the services with a short description only because we believe its much better to find out more on interactive solutions when you try them out yourself. Have a go.

Web Search including Social Networks


Swarm

link to Swarm


With Swarm you can see what people are visiting right now.

It is a graphical map of hundreds of websites, all connecting to each other and updated every second.

The most popular sites are in the center of the swarm and traffic is shown with lines. Whenever a line appears someone has moved from one site to the other. Swarm also allows users to chat about the web sites and links. A Firefox extension is used to capture data, but you can watch by just going to their web site.

More information at the Swarm web site



Yahoo! Time Capsule

link to Yahoo Time Capsule


The Yahoo! Time Capsule is a project where users had a chance to leave their digital legacy.

From October 10 until November 8 this year users from all over the world have been contributing photos, documents, videos, audio and drawings to this electronic anthropology project. All the data that has been collected will now be preserved and might become part of the web history one day. Users that contributed to the Time Capsule also participate in the selection of seven global charitable organizations to which Yahoo! has then donated USD100,000.

You can view, read, or hear all the material contributed from around the world with the outstanding user interface created by Jonathan Harris

We could have also included this application in the “Art and Beautiful” section but we thought it’s really a great example for a social network.

More information at the Yahoo Time Capsule web site.



Tumblicio.us

link to Tumblicio.us


Tumblicio.us describes itself as a new way to browse the internet.

It gathers information for the most popular sites from del.icio.us and then let users select the sites by displaying screen shots.

While this might not be something “special” we liked the clean and easy to use interface the two guys from the UK who created the site have put together.

More information at the Thumblicio.us web site.



Digg’s Front Page Stories

link to Urly Art Digg mosaic


UrlyArt has created this photo mosaic of the Digg logo with screen shots of the top 957 front page stories dugg.

It has not been updated since February, but it might still be quite interesting to have a look with the fast and easy to use interface and find out what happened then.

The group has done similar projects for Fark and Flickr.

More information at the UrlyArt web site.






Art and Beautiful



10 by 10

link to 10 by 10 web site


10 by 10 is another master piece by Jonathan Harris.

He describes the project as an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time.

…Every hour, 10×10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time…

Each hour a photo mosaic is created from 100 different frames. When you click on the images the stories behind them are being displayed.

The data 10×10 produces (including history) can also be directly accessed online and developers can include it within in their own non-commercial projects. The project has also inspired the Yahoo! Netrospective.

More information at the 10 by 10 web site.



Information

link to Sumora Information project


Information is the first of two outstanding computer art projects from sumora included here.

Both are part of the 10ways image collaboration project with five leading interaction designers sponsored by Getty Images.

The Information project is introduced by the artist as an …infinite journey into the digital image…

And this is completely true – whenever you zoom into one image you will come to the next one also created from a picture mosaic.

While photo mosaic have been around quite some time we have rarely seen such an outstanding example.

More information at the 10ways web site.



Light

link to Sumora Light project


Light is the second of sumora computer art projects covered here.

The artist describes it as

…At its most basic level, photography is light. Explore a multidimensional world to see how light – or its absence – can determine the mood, emotion and dramatic contrast within an image…

You navigate in a room and objects all created from images.

A must see.

More information at the 10ways web site.



Cover Pop

link to Coverpop Flickr numerical page


Jim Bumgardner who has created the Cover Pop web site must love playing with images.

Dozens of interactive Photo Mosaics on different topics are shown on this web site. From Valiant comics, UFOs, Books, Flickr and YouTube you will find one there and most are continuously updated.

Also have a look at his Flickr page for images of great photo mosaics.

More information at the Cover Pop web site.



Flickr


Flickr Related Tag Browser

link to Flickr tag browser


The Flickr Related Tag Browser lets you surf Flickr’s “tag space”.

Flickr tags are keywords used to classify images and have an associated list of “related” tags, based on clustered usage analysis.

Wandering between Flickr’s related tags can be a fun way to come across new images.

More information at the Airtight Interactive web site.



Tagnautica

link to Tagnautica


Tagnautica is similar to the previous application in the list.

It is an experimental navigation tool built to explore the space of related Flickr tags.

More information at the Quasimondo web site.

The image at the beginning of this article is derived from their great Clockr tool that displays the time with Flickr images (also available as screen saver)



Flickr Graph

link to Flickr Graph


Flickr Graph explores the social relationships within the universe of Flickr.

With this tool you can see how people are related similar to relationships in FOAF networks.






More information at the Marumushi web site.



Other Flickr Image interfaces

There are quite a few more interfaces to Flickr and one – FLoverview – while it does not really fit into this list, you should have a look at.

This tool provides an overview of a Flickr profile with general data, latest photos, random photos, streams, tag cloud, favorites and Groups on one page.







Amazon


AmazType

link to AmazType


AmazType is a typographic book search that can search for books, music and Video/DVD with Amazon web services.

Results are arranged as continuously growing Photo montage forming the searched term.

More information at the AmazType web site.



AmazNode

link to AmazNode


AmazNode is similar to AmazType.

Amaznode is a relation based search engine for Amazon which an Flash interface. It visualizes the relation network of products in Amazon, from the “customers who bought this item also bought” data.

More information at the AmazNode web site.



Map Amazon

link to Map Amazon


Map Amazon is an attempt to visualize the entire book collection from Amazon.

When you zoom into the collections books or other items are visualized with images. Great interface but rather slow.

More information at the The Purehands web site.






News



Life24

link to Life24 web site


The concept behind Life24 is more that just a visual stimulant. It wants to create a kind of world awareness in the here and now.

By overlaying the world map with images relevant in each of the regions “…you’ll see the different views on “news” depending on the various countries and their cultures…

Besides the images from news articles there is also an overlay with images from web cams available.

More information at the Life24 web site.



Other News Image interfaces

There are many more News visualizations with images – many of them similar to “A day in the life / world/ etc”. The 10×10 project would actually also belong to this group but we already included it in another group earlier in this article.






Virtual Worlds and Maps



Windows Live Local – Virtual Earth Technology Preview

link to Windows Live Local - Virtual Earth Technology Preview


You can already try out Windows Live Local Virtual Earth Technology Preview for the city centers of Seattle and San Francisco.

It creates an interactive 3D world by projecting local images over a map. With images linked to your current position you can have a look around in a photo realistic world

Expect to see more of these services soon. We have spotted vans going around capturing pictures in Europe and the US since more then 6 years.



Mappr

link to Mappr


If you have geo-coded your photos on Flickr or just want to look at photos from others Mappr is the place to go to.

Mappr is an application that has been created by Stamen the people who also created Digg Swarms (not to be mixed up with the Swarm application mentioned earlier).

Mappr overlays a map of the USA with images from Flickr photo collections / tags or individual users. You can zoom in to show more details of the images. This application is around since quite some time but still one of the best we have seen.

More information at the Stamen web site.



Flickr Map

link to Flickr Map


Flickr does provide its own mapping service. It links geo-locations of its vast image database to map points and displays it (of course) over an Yahoo world map. You can have a look with this link.

Also try out access directly with the name of the place e.g. san+francisco (don’t know if that is now documented).



Google Earth

There is a solution from GeoBlogger to see images of the nearest 50 Flickr photos around you when you are below 800 miles.

You can also easily map your images to locations within your Google Earth Browser. Have a look at the Make Zine article HOW TO GPS Tag Photos: Flickr, Mappr, Google Earth or look around in the Google Earth online forums.

Google is now / will soon also providing a solution to geo tag your images with Picasa. We are not completely sure where this is but to get an overview have a look at the Ogle Earth or the article at Rakaz on this topic.







We tried to find whatever is working out there but we might have overlooked some. Please leave a comment if you think we should include a web site on this list.

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