Seems like Apple gets all the attention and glory these days – iPhone this, iPad that, richest company in the world, yadda yadda.. It's true that Microsoft, the once popular tech giant, that was the go-to solution for everyones computer needs, hasn't actually done much to keep up these days. That's why I was surprised that the latest photography innovation that has been blowing my mind recently has had Microsoft's name attached to it.
Photosynth.net is the homepage for Microsoft's Photosynth software, which is free for public use. What exactly IS a photosynth? Well with the software you can do a few things: produce a highly detailed panorama from a single location, made up of multiple photographs or; create a highly detailed photograph of a single object, like a flower for instance. The great thing about this is you need absolutely no special tools and Photosynth magically does all the work for you, and does an amazing job.
Panoramic photography is nothing new, people have been stitching multiple frames into a single shot, even before Photoshop and digital imaging. Until lately though, it was something that required a great deal of technical knowledge to achieve.
Photosynth originally caught my attention about four years ago when I saw a TED talk from it's creator Blaise Agüera y Arcas, founder of Seadragon Software, which Microsoft later purchased. He was showing how the technology he had helped develop could use 3D spacial recognition to identify similar elements from multiple photos, and then align them together in a single image. The demo he showed used Flickr photos from multiple users of the Notre Dame Cathedral to make an extremely detailed image that the user could then navigate through, zooming in and out on a vast array of details.
I had forgotten about the technology, but then recently rediscovered it strangely enough through a iPhone app. Photosynth makes a mobile phone app for both iOS and Android devices that works like a charm. Basically you find a great spot to make a panoramic image, which fortunately Nova Scotia has plenty of. You then turn the app on and basically “paint” in your surroundings. You can watch as you turn left to right, up and down and the technology magically joins all of your images together into a single panorama.
You can then upload your image to the Photosynth website, which now has thousands of great images from all over the world, or share it instantly on your social networks. You can even embed the panoramic into your website or blog so your visitors can zoom and look around to their hearts content. Having a mobile app makes the process even easier. Yes, you can use your traditional camera and get slightly better quality, but this just makes it fun.
Aside from being fun, this would also be a great tool for any real estate agent or tourism provider who wanted to give potential customers a great idea about what they will be experiencing. In fact any small business owner or company that wanted to show the inside of their store would also greatly benefit from this service.
Of course if your not into making these types of things, you can always check out some of the amazing featured examples on the Photosynth website. They have also started to marry the service with Bing maps, making it possible to browse Photosynths by location, and explore the world from you home.