May 28, 2013 11:00 pm

Internet Explorer Reaches New Heights on the Web with Everest: Rivers of Ice

Today in partnership with David Breashears and his non-profit, GlacierWorks, we are thrilled to announce Everest: Rivers of Ice. With help from the IE10 team, Microsoft Research and the developers at Pixel Lab, this project brings an immersive, multi-touch exploration platform to the web showcasing David’s life of mountaineering, filmmaking and photography in the Himalayan region. Everest: Rivers of Icelets visitors travel the peaks and valleys of the Everest region through sweeping multi-touch HTML5 panoramas and rich interactive features that bring to life the peaks, valleys and glaciers from a never-before-seen bird’s eye view.

A renowned explorer, filmmaker and photographer, David began chronicling the changes to the glaciers of Mount Everest and the greater Himalayan region in 2007 when he first matched an iconic image taken in 1921 by explorer George Mallory. David’s photo revealed the stark changes occurred to this glacier during the 86 years since Mallory took his photo.

Today we bring the complete experience online to explore the changes happening in the region with a site built entirely in HTML5. Through the use of video, gigapixel images, comparative photography and hot spot overlays, the site allows you to explore Everest and its glaciers and valleys via a web platform built for touch and the modern web – letting you get up close to the mountain in ways never before thought possible. With this experience available on the web, over two billion people can now become explorers themselves!

“In 1983 after climbing Everest, I met Sir Edmund Hilary for the first time, and started a life-long friendship. Over the years, as I talked to him about my climbs and the pursuits of the summit, he said to me ‘David, someday you will learn to turn your eyes from the summit and look into the valleys.’ It took many years for me to understand that message. Over the past seven years, my non-profit GlacierWorks, has undertaken fourteen expeditions to the Greater Himalaya in order to document changes to the region’s glaciers and share them with the world,” explains David Breashears, explorer and filmmaker. “I started GlacierWorks to bring attention to the change I was seeing in this region I care about. The glaciers of the Greater Himalaya contribute to the water supply of billions of people; what happens in this region has a global impact. I am very excited to launch this project and give millions of people the opportunity to understand these important changes and also to explore Everest and the Himalaya.”

Explore the Himalayas with just a touch

Everest: Rivers of Ice allows anyone to become an explorer and, using IE10 – the only browser built for touch– a simple tap or pan lets you fly across panoramic views of Everest and zoom into images composed of billions of pixels to discover the region in beautiful detail. And there is no telling what you might discover while exploring the vast valleys and peaks of the mountain systems within.

Utilizing IE’s touch model, Everest: Rivers of Ice, also goes further by creating innovative and intuitive touch interactions like “draw and zoom.” If you want to explore an area, a peak or basecamp on the mountain, you simply draw a circle around a piece of the photo and the site will automatically zoom to what you want to explore. We think it is a fun and fastway to quickly dive into a few of the billions of pixels at your fingertips.

Using the web for the next generation of storytelling

David Breashears holds four National Emmys for his work in documentary filmmaking. Now with IE, he turns to the web to tell this critical story of what is happening to the glaciers in this region. Historically, story-telling has been a linear experience, with a defined beginning, end and content in-between dictated by what the director wants to show you. With Everest: Rivers of Ice we utilized the Microsoft Research platform Rich Interactive Narratives(RIN) to allow you not only to view amazing videos and hear directly from David, but also explore the gigapixel images, match photography and video vignettes at your own pace to discover the countless secrets David’s powerful content reveals.

Building new experiences entirely in HTML5

Everest: Rivers of Icemakes extensive use of gigapixel panoramas to help you see the awe-inspiring scale of Everest and its glaciers like never before. These gigapixel panoramas are pieced together using HTML5-based RIN technology into a beautiful site. To create the incredible panoramas you see on the site, we used the multi-resolution, HTML5-based panorama viewer from Bing, which renders perspective corrected panoramas containing billions of pixels. Building on image-based rendering research from Microsoft Research, the viewer raises the bar on what a modern browser can do with technologies like CSS3 3D transforms and Canvas. Finally, RIN enables additional discovery and exploration by overlaying the panorama with hotspots that show more information in the form of HTML5 video, side-by-side image comparators and image galleries.

This experience wouldn’t be possible without the power of the standards-based web and a great touch browser like IE10. In order to create this site and help bring the web forward allowing more developers to build amazing cross browser websites, we worked closely with the ecosystem to create a standard for enabling touch on the web – Pointer Events. Available today in IE10 on Windows 8, Pointer Events was recently published by the W3C as a Candidate Recommendation specification, an important step towards interoperable support on the web.

Today’s launch is an exciting moment showcasing what is possible when cutting edge content from an explorer like David is combined with the power, reach and richness of the modern web and a modern browser like IE. So pick up your favorite Windows 8 device and scale Everest with just a touch.

Roger Capriotti

Director, Internet Explorer Marketing

Updated November 8, 2014 2:16 am

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