Bing’s New 3D Photosynth

For once Bing’s ahead of Google with something. Check out the new Bing Photosynth, a pretty groundbreaking experience that analyzes digital photographs to generate three-dimensional views of real world spaces. In essence Bing a.k.a. Microsoft tries to create a digital replica of the planet with an immersive 3D way to traverse and explore the world. Building on that vision, the new Photosynth gives everyone access to powerful tools to capture their own favorite spots around the globe.

The new Photosynth technology can be interesting for presentations of all kinds and supports four basic experiences: spin, panorama, walk and wall. Here’s how to shoot a synth:

It’s your world in 3D. Glide through, zoom in — (BTW, Safari doesn’t seem to properly display interactive synths; no problems with Chrome, Firefox and Explorer I guess):

How does it work? From Bing Blogs:

When you upload a set of photos to our cloud service, our technology starts by looking for points (called “features”) in successive photos that appear to be the same object.

If it finds many features that reoccur in your set of photos, it passes this information on to the second step: bundle adjustment. Bundle adjustment, a standard technique in photogrammetry, determines where in 3D space each feature is, exactly where each photo was taken from, and how the camera was oriented for each photo.

Third, the technology uses the feature points in each photo to generate 3D shapes. It does so on a per-photo basis rather than trying to generate a global 3D model for the scene. The 3D model generated by Photosynth is coarse — you can see it if you type “c” (for camera) in the viewer and then use your mouse wheel to zoom out.

Next, the technology calculates a smooth path (think of it as a steadicam) through the locations of the camera for each photo. With this path, Photosynth presents the experience of moving through a synth as a gliding motion even if the actual photos were shot at different heights or slightly off-angle. You can see this path if you type “m” (for map) in the viewer. Finally, Photosynth slices and dices the images into multi-resolution pyramids for efficient access.

Head to Photosynth to check out the new experience. It’s where you can sign up to start creating your own virtual 3D photo trips.