WEB 2.0 - Microsoft puts Photosynth preview on Web

Preview of snazzy photo management app is now online for testing

Microsoft has put a preview of Photosynth online to let people test drive this snazzy photo-management application, the head of the company's Live Labs research unit said Thursday.

The preview is an early version of the application, so it may have kinks and bugs, said Gary Flake, Microsoft technical fellow, at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

In a demo, he and another member of Live Labs showed how PhotoSynth took a set of photos snapped in different places and, using algorithms, blended them into a seamless, fluid, high-resolution 3D image users can immerse themselves in, zooming in and out, changing angles and panning around.

The demo showed outside shots, like a composite image of the Piazza San Marco in Italy, as well as an interior image of an art gallery. Photosynth automatically analyzes the photos in a collection and mashes them up, taking into account their different angles, resolutions and similarities to create the blended image.

Microsoft is now trying to figure out the different ways and scenarios in which Photosynth can be used, and it hopes that people who try out the preview will offer suggestions, said Flake, founder and director of Live Labs, a Microsoft research unit focused on Internet technologies.

The site isn't yet ready to accept photos from people. It contains pre-loaded collections of photos taken by Microsoft employees. The Photosynth preview is also only available to Internet Explorer (IE) users. Non-IE surfers are told that the development team wants to extend support to other browsers and to check the Photosynth blog for updates.

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