The capture and use of ultra high resolution images is really only at the beginning stages, and one of the issues of course is how to let people actually see them in a way that demonstrates their amazing resolution. Microsoft Research has come up with a new beta viewer for these high-res images, called HDView. Basically, it is a browser-based viewer (currently only available for Internet Explorer and the Windows environment) that allows the user to pan and zoom high resolution images with very wide fields of view and sizes that number in the billions of pixels. By downloading and caching portions of the image, HDView allows smooth movement around the image and while zooming in and out (at least on my machine). The HD View viewer also gives the image a projection of sorts to give it a 3D-like perspective when zoomed in. Also, there is a command line tool to allow you can create your own HD View content and publish it on the web.
I’ve been playing around with HD View for a little while today, and I have to say that zooming in and out of the sample images and just looking at the level of detail is really amazing. If you decide to try it out, you should know that it doesn’t necessarily work well yet on all machines, and it does need to install an ActiveX Control.