SBP Blog

Photosynth: 3D art at your fingertips

Sep 17, 2010 by DanM

Note: I have to admit that before starting this post I had a good idea about what Photosynth can do, now after more hours of research and experimenting with this new Microsoft tool, I'm impressed about its capabilities, accuracy and interactivity. So, here are my personal observations about Photosynth.

Photosynth is a piece of software created by Microsoft which allows users to recreate a 3D or a panoramic scene by using a series of flat photos of the same object or location. If you wonder how can this be possible, the answer is presented below.

Photosynth takes your photos of the same area, analyzes them, tries to find similarities, and uses the gathered information to mash and recreate a 3D or a panoramic scene. When the 3D/panoramic scene is ready, the user will be able to interact or share the final result with other users, by uploading it on the Photosynth website (

Noah Snavely, a student from the University of Washington, had the ambitious idea to build a tool able to recreate a three-dimensional image from more photos of the same place. At first the project was called "Photo Tourism", but after the partnership with Microsoft the software acquired the name "Photosynth".

By November 9, 2006, Microsoft has launched a free preview of the Photosynth software, and back then the user was able just to view models generated by Microsoft. A year later, on August 6, 2007, Microsoft teamed up with NASA, and allowed users to view the Photosynth technology at work when they created a 3D picture of the Space Shuttle Endeavour (pretty cool I may say :))

Photosynth was officially released to the public on August 20, 2008: users were able to upload their photos and generate their own Photosynths. Also in 2008, Photosynth had its first media appearances: in the episode "Admissions" of the television show "CSI: New York", while in 2009 CNN used Photosynth to build a 3D image of the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States.

2010 brought about a new feature for Photosynth: support for Gigapixel panoramas, which is integrated in the Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor (simply called Microsoft ICE).

Do I need talent?

The best part about Photosynth is that you don't need advanced skills in photography or 3D modeling to use it, you just have to take clear pictures of the same location, building, object, people etc., and let the software do it's magic.

To start creating 3D or panoramic photos you just need the Photosynth software installed on your PC (get it from here: and a Windows Live ID in order to sign in on the Photosynth website.

Another great thing about Photosynth is that you can view on Bing Maps photosynths from different countries. This feature is very usefully if you are trying to decide in which country you want to travel. Also, Bing Maps is using Photosynth to create a 3D world in its worlds, by using photos from users to create 3D surrounds.

So, summer is over, get your holiday pictures and start building awesome three-dimensional images with Photosynth!

P.S. Don't forget to send me the link :)

Tags: Microsoft 


No comments yet.

Your Comment: