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Microsoft’s Photosynth Now Online

by David Mercer | 8月 22, 2008

Microsoft introduced its new Photosynth service yesterday at an event in central London. Photosynth was developed by Seadragon and acquired by Microsoft two years ago. It has been developed under the wings of the company’s Live Labs group and is now available at www.photosynth.com in its 1.0 version. I say “available” advisedly, because it wasn’t accessible from Microsoft’s own demonstration stand because of the site being “overwhelmed”. This morning, however, things seem to have improved. Photosynth creates panoramic or 3D representations from still photos. The technology’s clever part involves stitching or “synthing” different photos of the same object so that they merge seamlessly into a continuous whole, or at least that’s the theory. The examples given are of famous landmarks such as Stonehenge. Using a couple of hundred photos taken from a wide range of different angles, the software creates a visual quasi-3D representation of the monument, filling in the gaps between adjacent photos, and allowing the user to move around, choosing his own angle and zooming in at will. Photosynth is an online service. A software application resides on the user’s PC but the images are stored on the web. At the moment Microsoft is presenting Photosynth as a consumer service and will offer it within the MSN suite of services. The company suggested to me that it had no specific plans for revenues or a business model behind Photosynth – it is a free download and Microsoft hopes to encourage widespread usage. Eventually however it seems certain that Microsoft will develop commercial business models and revenue streams. 3D modelling should to appeal to many online retailers, to take just one example. The technology is certainly fascinating and I’m sure there will be photography enthusiasts out there who will explore its potential. For average users however I’m not so sure this is something that will catch on quickly. Digital photography has been successful because it simplifies what used to be a hit-and-miss affair and makes sharing photos straightforward. Active involvement in Photosynth will necessitate a significant investment of user time, as well as access to a decent broadband upload connection – if an individual user is serious about creating a good synth of a building or location, this could require 100 or more high quality digital photos, and that will involve no small amount of bandwidth. But like so many other emerging applications, we probably haven’t even begun to see what Photosynth will become over time. That will ultimately hinge on the creativity of end users, and given past experience that is likely to take the service in directions that can’t even be imagined today. Visit us at IBC: Web TV and Virtual Worlds Analyst Presentations Add to Technorati Favorites
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