Microsoft’s PhotoSynth tool is jaw-droppingly awesome. But, because it’s a Microsoft project, the technology is unlikely to appear on some of your favorite non-Microsoft online apps, like Google Maps or Flickr.
However, our friends at ReadWriteWeb stumbled across a very similar tool — at least in terms of the end result — developed by the University of North Carolina in conjunction with Swiss university, ETH-Zurich.
Project lead Jan-Michael Frahm touts the project’s efficiency saying, “our technique would be the equivalent of processing a stack of photos as high as the 828-meter Dubai Towers, using a single PC, versus the next best technique, which is the equivalent of processing a stack of photos 42 meters tall — as high as the ceiling of Notre Dame — using 62 PCs. This efficiency is essential if one is to fully utilize the billions of user-provided images continuously being uploaded to the internet.”
While the results are cool and would make an impressive addition to any number of geo-based services, more serious use cases include helping disaster workers get a better idea of where they’re headed and the extent of damage.
So far the researchers have released a movies demonstrating the technique on landmarks in both Rome (get it? built in a day…) and Berlin, and the results are impressive. For more information on how the process works, check out the UNC website.