Friday, August 22, 2008


A couple of years ago, Microsoft presented a public demonstration of a new technology they were working on called Photosynth. What it does is analyze a collection of photographs from one particular area and then combines them into a psuedo-3D presentation. It is almost a combination of a slideshow, a gallery, and a 3D model. You can "move" around an area, and the system will then display the photographs of that area. When you zoom in, it will zoom in to any photographs taken of the details of that portion of the area. It is a very cool idea and implimentation.

Earlier this week, I saw a new video presention where the research team explained some new features they had added recently. Those features included maintaining an object's position as you rotated around it so that it didn't jump back and forth. They added an "on-the-fly white balancing" feature so that photographs taken by differnt photographers and cameras would blend in together better. Plus, they added the ability for the system to distinquish between night-time and day-time photographs so you could select one or the other to view.

What took me by surprise yesterday, is that Microsoft has rolled Photosynth out as part of their Live web services. In other words, you can now make your own "synths" as they call the 3D presentations. Currently, Photosynth requires a download that installs two components. One component is a browser plug-in that allows you to view the synths. The other is a small applet that starts the process of making a synth. There is no client-only version yet as the process requires the server power to generate the synth presentations. Another downside is that it seems to be limited to Widows XP and Vista at the moment.

If you are interested here is a link to the Photosynth website. It has been quite a bit more popular than Microsoft expected, so the site has been up and down with heavy traffic loads. Once that gets ironned out, I do plan to give it a try this weekend. So, look for a post with my first attempts in a couple of days.

This technology has the potential of changing quite a few ways of displaying and presenting our photographs.

As always, keep shooting.

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