Photosynth – I hope it handles movies

November 11, 2006

Photosynth is cool. But in the trial version you can't upload your own photos. That's cool though – because at the moment you can get a good feel for what it's going to be like.

But it got me thinking – when I went to St Mark's Square in Venice, I didn't take that many photos. I don't really want to take 100 shots, even in an incredible place like that. I appreciate that other people will have taken shots and be letting the Photosynth community share them, but they won't be doing that when it comes to looking around a school, or a house that I'm considering buying. So then I got to thinking that if I take a video camera, and split out the movie into individual frames, then Photosynth could weave its magic with that. I know the resolution is a lot smaller, but it would let me walk in somewhere, turn around (slowly), keep walking, and get my 'hundreds of shots' quite quickly. If my wife is taking photos of things in detail, then together we should get good coverage – enough low-res to cover up the gaps, with high-res detail for zooming in.

So then my imagination started to run… if Photosynth could just handle movies straight off, then could it be modified to take several synchronised feeds? Could it then produce a world from the images at a certain point in the game, like when a goal was scored, or something like that? With enough processing power, could you watch the match from anywhere on the ground, flying around it as you wanted?

Or could you manipulate the world that Photosynth created? Could you make a world of your house, and then replace a wall with a window? If Photosynth knew what was on the other side of the wall (garden, other rooms, whatever), then you could work out how your renovations might look? Or could you change the colours, wallpapers, etc?

Could you then make a movie of yourself, which you could look at from various angles (but particularly, looking directly at the eyes, in mirrored image, as if you were looking into a mirror), and try on clothes, glasses or hairstyles? It's all well and good for people to have software that shows a picture of their face with a different haircut, but if you could move around this world, and even see animations, then that gives you a much better impression about what you will look like.

The thing that impresses me the most about Photosynth is the imagination. I know the technology must be pretty clever – I did some image processing subjects during my degree, and I know it can be all kinds of headaches… but if they've cracked the concept of matching pictures to a virtual world, then I can see much bigger things in the not too distant future.

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