Photosynth goes live!

About a year ago I wrote about the Photosynth technology from Microsoft that creates 3D spaces from collections of photographs. At the time it only worked with a few sample data sets created by Microsoft, but there was a very nice demo to download and it was a pretty exciting piece of tech. Just a few days ago Microsoft released a full version that allows you to create your own “photosynths” by uploading collections of photos.

I just had to have a go. The image above shows a screen-grab of the Photosynth viewer with some data that I took.

Read on for more on the new release, how I got on with it, videos and links to the 3D scenes that I created.

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Photosynth – reconstruction of 3D spaces from photos


I was fortunate enough to go to Siggraph this year in San Diego, which is the premier conference for new research relating to computer graphics. While the technology I’m going to write about in this article was not presented there this year, it another example of one of an increasing number of research projects to use the vast array of photos available through online communities such as Flickr.

Microsoft have recently released a techology preview of a stunning new piece of technology called “Photosynth”. The aim is to create three dimensional “spaces” of real places and buildings by analysing and processing photos taken from differing viewpoints. The idea of creating spaces is subtly different from creating models. The former places the emphasis on something that is navigable and in which you feel immersed. Model reconstruction, on the other hand, is the creation of a 3D representation that can be places within a virtual environment, perhaps as part of a larger scene.

It is incredibly cool stuff. This article introduces the ideas and shows where to go for more information.

(Update August ’08: See this link for another post on the recently released version that anyone can use to make 3D spaces from their photos.)

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Panoramio – See your photos in Google Earth

Panoramia overlay in Google Earth

Something I came across recently was the ability to share your own photos of places around the globe using Google Earth. A Spanish company called Panoramio have created a very easy way of selecting locations on the globe and adding your own pictures. Other users of Google Earth can then see these photos by clicking on the camera symbols that get overlaid onto the map.

At first sight Panoramio looks just like yet another website that hosts online galleries. You can store upto 2Gb of pictures for free. Other users of the site can browse your pictures. But the big difference here is that you can do this by clicking on a Google Map window, and have the images appear to other people via Google Earth. A two way link between an image browser list and the map window means selecting an image in either window will select it in the other so you can see in a very dynamic way where pictures were taken. It is much easier to try than describe – go to the Panoramio Map and have a play.

And then the really smart thing is link into 3D with Google Earth. Read on…
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Masters thesis submitted at last!

Phew! After an eventful last seven years, I finally managed to get my Masters thesis submitted this week to Nottingham University. The title? Wait for it…..

The use of 2D views to aid interaction and visualisation within 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments

When I started it I was a partner in a new tech startup called RealiMation Ltd, and doing a research degree into some aspect of collaborative virtual reality was a natural extension to my work. But shortly after I started, RealiMation was acquired by Criterion Software, and a few years later by Electronic Arts, which in combination provided a radical – yet enjoyable – change in life. But I persevered, and finally manage to submit my thesis seven years after I started. Apparently this is not the record, however, which was somewhat disappointing!

At the time of writing I have no idea if I have passed, but that’s almost beside the point. I could so easily have given up, but stuck at it and produced a decent piece of work in the end.

Just for interest, here’s the abstract:
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