Microsoft unveiled a preview of its third-generation Photosynth photo-stitching application today, showing off new levels of smoothness and resolution that add more realism to the resulting interactive 3D “synths.” The result feels at times more like an interactive video scene than a collection of photos.

Here’s an example of a scene created by the new version of the service.

Ingalls Peak by wideangle on Photosynth

As can probably be expected from photo stitching software, the new Photosynth preview features support for a panoramic shot of a single object (what Microsoft is calling “spin”), as well as a panorama shot outwards from a single point.

Example of a spin synth by wideangle on Photosynth

In addition to inward or outward facing panoramas, the Photosynth preview added a couple of new modes for linear stitching. The Walk mode allows users to string together images they took while walking a path, in a manner similar to Google’s Street View, but without the full 3D panoramas, while Wall mode allows users to get a full look up and down a single long surface.

Fremont Houseboats by MidnightFrog on Photosynth

Those two modes seem particularly interesting, given Microsoft’s new Bing Maps app preview, which highlights both its high-definition 3D imagery as well as the ability to transition from a bird’s-eye view to Microsoft’s Streetside views, a rival to Google Maps’s Street View.

Since Google is currently working to let users add their own panoramas to Street View, Photosynth could be a key part of keeping Bing Maps competitive in the mapping space.

The Photosynth preview is available at Currently, Microsoft is only gradually adding users to the program on a first-come, first-served basis. Photosynth users will also still have access to the company’s existing panorama stitching functionality before getting access to new features.

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  • kgelner

    It’s impressive but kind of gimmicky. You’d have to take a ton of shots to do any of those videos, each of which you could do with a camcorder or GoPro also… sure you’d lack the ability to go back and change the position in the video later but it’s a lot of work to go through to get to that level of flexibility that not many people would be interested in.

    • r00fus

      Imagine if instead of shooting a single shot per 10ft, that the Google Maps vans were bursting continuously as they drove by a street address…

      That’s where this kind of tech would be amazing. Hopefully they also blur faces and the like – maybe even remove the people so none will complain about having their morning stroll be recorded.

    • dave birney

      yea sure but tons of shots isnt going to take up anywhere near as much storage space as a video, and its also going to be quicker to upload, and you dont need a gopro or a camcorder to do it, just anything above a 5mp camera, and its going to looks steadier than if somebody was walking around recording a handheld video so either youd need to get some basic stabilisation kit at the least or stabelize it using software to get it as smooth as this. and you can zoom in at any point you want which you couldnt do in a video.
      pros and cons to each one really

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