[Photography] Microsoft Live Labs introduces Photosynth, a breakthrough visual medium

For Release 5 a.m.

Aug. 21, 2008

Microsoft Live Labs Introduces Photosynth, a Breakthrough Visual Medium

Share more than photos; share an experience.

READING, UK — Aug. 21, 2008 — First there was the snapshot, and then came video. Now there is Microsoft Photosynth, a new service from Microsoft Live Labs that goes far beyond how you now view, experience and share photos.

You can share or relive a holiday destination or explore a distant museum or landmark; with a digital camera and your own creativity and inspiration, you can use Photosynth to transform regular digital photos into a three-dimensional, 360-degree experience. Anybody who sees your “synth” is put right in your shoes, sharing in the same sense of exhilaration and wonder that you did at the time, with detail, clarity and scope impossible to achieve in conventional photos or videos.

Photosynth has presented me with a new way to showcase my images as real life experiences, rather than flat pictures,” said James Glossop, The Times Young Photographer of the Year 2008. “This opens up exciting possibilities for photographers. Our audiences can now interact with the landscapes and events that we document,” he continued.

An Entirely New Medium
Synths constitute an entirely new visual medium. Photosynth analyses each photo for similarities to the others, and uses that data to estimate where a photo was taken. It then re-creates the environment and uses that as a canvas on which to display the photos. The potential uses of Photosynth can range from sharing experiences to storytelling and documentation:

  • Share experiences. Think about the times you have been in the midst of a beautiful location or having a once-in-a-lifetime experience and wished you could share it with more immediacy and sense of place than still photos or video can capture. Photosynth puts viewers in the centre of the moment and in control of how they experience it.

  • Form a community. Synths can bring the best of your digital photos together with the best of everybody else’s. Imagine if you took a trip to Rome with your friends and each of you took photos of the Trevi Fountain. Later, you can tag and upload all of the photos from each person’s camera to create a synth of it. In addition, you can share that experience and your favourite places with others by embedding the synth in your profile on a social networking site.

  • Educate or archive. If you want to re-create how you decorated your home for the holidays or how you planted your garden last season, the ability of Photosynth to provide intricate detail allows documentation impossible to achieve with conventional photos.

The London Eye is one of the many launch partners who are utilising Photosynth technology to enrich their website. “Photosynth will allow our visitors to explore the London Eye in a new, interactive manner. They are now able to experience views of and around the London Eye allowing them to get a better understanding of what they can expect from their visit and where the London Eye is positioned amongst other landmarks,” said Helen Bull, Marketing Director, The London Eye.

Using Photosynth
Getting started with Photosynth is easy:

  • To begin, just take a few dozen digital photos — 20 to 300 photos are required, depending on the size of the place or object — with overlap between each shot, from a number of locations and angles.

  • Next, download a small, free software application to your computer from http://livelabs.com/photosynth/. This software works in concert with the Photosynth Web site, which is also a free service.

  • Build your synth in just two easy steps: First, from the Photosynth Web site, click on Create and select the pictures you want to use. Then, give your creation a name and click on Synth, and Photosynth automatically creates and uploads your synth. In about the same amount of time it would take to upload the pictures to a photo-sharing site, you can enjoy your pictures in dramatic and detailed 3-D.

  • The finished synth can be accessed from any Windows XP- or Windows Vista-powered computer with a broadband connection. If you want to comment on other people’s synths or create your own, you’ll also need a free Windows Live ID.

  • Once created, synths can also be embedded on Web sites, blogs and social networking sites such as MySpace, Windows Live Spaces or virtually any Web site where HTML can be edited.

Following this release, the Photosynth team will join MSN — an important step in continuing to improve Photosynth and share the experience with an even wider audience. In addition to letting users create and share synths at http://livelabs.com/photosynth/, over the next year Photosynth will begin to become a key part of the experience for MSN’s 550 million monthly visitors worldwide. Synths will be prominently featured on MSN.com. To create a more absorbing experience for its visitors, MSN will use synths of popular destinations and notable events in many of the places where static images are used on the site today.

About Microsoft Live Labs
Microsoft Live Labs is an applied research organisation focused on the incubation of innovative, Internet-centric technologies to improve and accelerate the next evolution of Microsoft’s Internet products and services. Through rapid prototyping of emerging technologies and incubation of entirely new inventions, Live Labs aims to advance the state of the art of Internet technologies and enable new scenarios for its users. Live Labs believes that collaboration with other groups at Microsoft, government and academic research labs, and industry labs and pioneers, is key to fulfilling its mission, and works to build strong relationships with these groups.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

Published Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:58 PM by chobbs
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