Photosynth…is here

For those who are not aware, the long awaited photosynth arrived a little while ago. This adds a step change to the way people see and use digital photography.  Not only is it there for taking artistic pictures but by combining sets of pictures, an immersive experience can be had.  This particular technology comes from the microsoft labs and has been in development for a few years.  Now it is here, it is everything it promised to be.  Pictures are uploaded and are aligned in three dimensional space using an algorithm that finds points of texture in the photo that are matched in others.  From this a point cloud is built up enabling you to view the scene eerily from an angle not taken in the original photographs. As an engineer I see huge potential for these sort of photo point clouds should microsoft make this spatial information available.  Even for a price it would easily compete with the most sophisticated laser scanning technology out there.  Sure it may not be as accurate but anyone can do it and over huge distances.

Have a go yourself and check out this ‘synth’ by National Geographic.  Grab the the donut with your mouse and drag it around to see the scene from different angles.  Hold down Ctrl to view the point cloud.   You may have to download the web application it needs first… it will tell you where to go.  There are plenty of great synths that have been created aside from this as well – you could spend hours on it.

You can check out my own synth of a dam I visited last year… we were not able to get close to the rock face at the end of the spillway but if you can find it in the synth you can see that the face is well defined in the 3D point cloud.


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