Photosynth: 3D Models For Virtual Earth

Today at the Web 2.0 Expo Berlin Blaise, architect of Live Labs, showed off future functionality of Photosynth, their amazing 3d model-generator. The features hints at future Virtual Earth integration.

Since Photosynth was first released Live Labs has been putting out collections that they have created. There has been hope that someday people would be able to make their own collections with their own photos or that Photosynth could turn Flickr’s photos into a collection of the world. This spring Photosynth will be released with the ability to make your own collections and a community site for sharing them. Upon release you’ll be able to model your home, your room, or yourself. You’ll be able to link the collections together and flow from one to the next.

photosynth temple

Blaise demoed a model of Banteay Srei that he had constructed that morning in 5 minutes from a couple hundred photos. The image above is from that model.

Separately UW professor Steve Seitz is using a precursor of Photosynth to also build 3D models from online photos. (via Slashdot)

smith tower

Blaise also revealed a secret about Photosynth. The collections are not really 3D. They are just flat images projected at an angle that give that perception (most of the time). The image above shows their experiments with projecting photos on 3D models. The photos of Seattle’s Smith Tower were taken with a consumer-grade camera from a helicopter. The 3D models were generated from the photos themselves. It’s uncertain when this will be released. Its still under development — as you can see in the photo there are defects in the model.

This technology will be a great compliment to Virtual Earth. VE recently released Photosynth-esque navigation though their 3D views (Radar post). Soon we can imagine being able to create our own 3D views of our town just by taking the photos and sharing them via Photosynth’s geocommunity (like we can expect from Everyscape and similat to Google’s 3D Warehouse).

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