Exploring photos in 3D – and creating virtual places

imageclip_image002Are you responsible for any historic buildings or memorable landscapes? Would you like to find a way to share about the way that your council operates? Bring people into a virtual council chamber, or to see the inside of a fantastic building that visitors can only see the outside of today? Well, there’s a new photo system that we released last week that could do this, and organisations like the BBC and National Geographic are using for exactly that.

It’s Photosynth, which allows you to build a 3D model of a place or object from static photographs. (I’ve found I can while away half an hour easily, exploring somebody else’s model of St Marks Square, Stonehenge or even a Ferrari 575 Superamerica.)

And now that Photosynth has been fully released, it gets better. You can use Photosynth to turn regular digital photos into a three-dimensional, 360-degree model. And you can then share your synth with others – who can walk in your shoes through the same place. The technology does the hard work – reconstructing the scene or object from your flat photos – by looking for similarities between images, and using it to estimate the shape of the space/object, and work out the original camera position.

To create your own synth sign in to http://photosynth.com, download the synther application and viewer. And start building.

National Geographic are using it in a collaborative way – asking people to submit their own photos of famous sights, and then using Photosynth to merge them all together into a virtual space.

And the BBC created a series of synths with the pre-release version last year, with buildings such as Scottish Parliament and the Royal Crescent Bath. One of the spectacular ones, I thought, was the inside of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, which allows visitors to get a really close up view of the inside of a fantastic building.

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