Based on technology developed at the University of Washington, Microsoft's Photosynth browser can draw from personal photos or shots culled from photo-sharing sites to create a 3D space users can "walk around" in.
Here, for instance, selected pictures of Paris' famed Notre Dame cathedral (left) are assembled into a 3D model around a relatively simple rendering of the facade (right), based on the position the photographer was in when each shot was taken--a puzzle the program solves using various algorithms.
Viewers use the interface (bottom) to move around the space: The program shuttles them to the next shot while providing renderings that create the illusion of a seamless environment.
Photosynth also lets its users find shots that are similar to a given photo--a historical view taken from the same vantage point, for example.
Microsoft/CSE Graphics and Imaging Lab, University of Washington
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Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.