There’s a reason everyone’s sending you links to Photosynth. It presents the most astounding possibilities of any technology I’ve seen. Even playing with it myself I can’t believe it’s real. Using photos of frequently photographed places (NASA Space Shuttle, Piazza San Pietro, Rome, Gyeongbok Palace in Korea) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that will stretch your mind. Check out the Photosynth collections, where you can access gigabytes of photos in seconds, view a scene from nearly any angle, find similar photos with a single click, and zoom in to make the smallest detail as big as your monitor. (Technical difficulties? Check the Photosynth FAQ for help.)
How does it work? According to Wikipedia, the program works by analyzing multiple photographs taken of the same area. Each photograph is processed by noting specific features, like the corner of a window frame or a door handle. Photos that share features are then linked together in a web. When the same feature is found in multiple images, its 3D position can be calculated. Photosynth's 3D model is a cloud of points showing where these features are in space. This model enables the program to show a particular area from various angles, based on the different angles found in the photos.
In this video (which takes a couple minutes to load), architect Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos Photosynth at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference in Monterey, CA. Photosynth will undoubtedly transform the way we manipulate and experience digital images. It’s actually a mind-adventure to experience this new visual networking, which uses advanced algorithms to interpret, categorize and codify pixel-based data and create links between related images from anywhere on the net. Instead of relying on error-prone (lazy) humans to tag their photos, Photosynth uses artificial intelligence to “tag” and link images, creating something far more magnificent than the sum of its parts. I’m certainly going to stay tuned to the Photosynth Team Blog.