Seeing the world through photos in 3D – Microsoft’s Photosynth goes public

Microsoft Photosynth

Microsoft Photosynth


Less than a month after I last wrote about Photosynth (and its potential for human rights protection) comes welcomes news that it is now open to the public to upload their own photos to create their “synths”. This sadly does not yet work on Macs. A fairly high end PC is also needed to view the photo models / synths, but the results are amazing. 

One downside of the synths is that you’ll need two or three times more the storage space for all the extra photos needed to render a synth accurately. Most of the synths currently online are mundane and banal, but Microsoft’s own synth showcase the potential and power of Photosynth. 

The BBC first showcased Photosynth a year ago and already has some very impressive synths of well known British landmarks. The BBC’s Click Online programme recently showcased Photosynth in its latest avatar. 

As with Flickr which ranges from the downright dastardly to the sublime, I expect most synths to be a waste of hard drive space and bandwidth. A few however will make this amazing technology worthwhile – esp. to recreate scenes, in 3D, of places one may never see otherwise. It can also be interesting to record the evolution of places, entire cities even, over time, akin to what Google Earth does with layers. Imagine what it would be to see Jaffna from a decade ago and compare it with what it is today. The potential to create detailed, 3D, navigable picture-scapes from publicly available photo sets or those that you upload is, to the best of my knowledge, unique.

Microsoft as the search king of the single largest repository of photographic data?

UPDATE – 26 August 2008

Ars Technica has a review of Photo Synth here.

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