By Evan Ackerman
Last year we introduced you to Microsoft’s Photosynth, which is a powerful piece of software based on research at the University of Washington. There is now a beta version available for public use, and it looks pretty sweet. Essentially, photo tourism software lets you browse through Internet snapshots that have been arranged into virtual 3D space by finding similarities between the images. The software looks through sites like Flickr to build a database of a given place from hundreds of different pictures, enabling you to browse through views from many different locations and at varying levels of detail, all integrated into a smooth interface. This video is from the University of Washington, the guys who wrote the software in the first place:
For a slightly techier, more detailed explaination, a full version (5 minutes) of the demo can be found here; it’s well worth watching, if just for the additional locations. Microsoft is currently working on place collections, user submissions, and even some browser friendly plugins including a beta version for (gasp) Firefox. You can see a slick Microsoft video illustrating how they’re planning on packaging the software here, and try it out here (although Firefox is supported, anything less than XP SP2 isn’t). It’s projects like these that give me faith in Web 2.0.