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.)