Microsoft Research creates digital version of AIDS quilt

Sometimes, Microsoft works on a project that doesn't have a goal to make money but simply to help people in need. That's the case with the recently revealed digital version of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which aims to remind people of the folks who have succumbed to the AIDS disease.

There is a physical version of the AIDS quilt, but if it were to be put in place as one unit, it would take up 23 acres and weigh 53 tons. The organizers of the quilt had taken images of it, but the images totaled 55 GB and had over 49,000 individual quilt panels. In a post on the Microsoft Research blog, Donald Brinkman talks about Microsoft's involvement in putting those images together to create a browser-based version.

To cut and stitch the virtual quilt, we could use Windows Azure to create cloud data stores and run stitch/unstitch scripts across multiple cores. To zoom and explore the quilt, we could use a combination of Silverlight Deep Zoom paired with both Large Art Display on Surface, for a high-fidelity experience, and Bing Maps, for a cross-platform experience. Finally, to dynamically reconfigure the quilt, we could use PivotViewer.

Brinkman asked for help from other Microsoft team members to create the digital AIDS quilt. He says that over a dozen people volunteered their time and effort to work on the project. He adds, "Within a week, they had a proof of concept up and running in Bing Maps, enabling you to be one of the first people in the world to view the quilt in its entirety."

Source: Microsoft Research blog

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