30 March 2013

Using Photosynth Desktop to Create DIY Streetviews

Photosynth Desktop allows you to stitch together photographs from many viewpoints and move between them in real time. In theory, this could be used to create home-made, DIY versions of Google's Streetview. This article looks at Studio 425's attempt to create a home made Streetview of Watney Market, in East London.

Photosynth Desktop builds on the panorama software and smart-phone apps, reviewed by Studio 425 in February 2013. The Desktop software create 'synths' composed of multiple 2 dimensional photographs. The software creates a virtual model of the photographed scene and displays the whole scene as a series of overlapping images.

The effect is probably best explained simply by exploring the example below, which shows Watney Market in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on Good Friday 2013.

The scene was captured as a series of overlapping photographs, taken with an iPhone 4s camera. The photos were then transferred to a laptop and loaded into the Photosynth Desktop software. The program took almost 90 minutes to process the 389 constituent photos and upload the finished 'synth' or streetview to photosynth.net

While the Watney Market synth lacks the intuitive navigation of Google Streetview, it is possible, nonetheless to 'walk' along to length of the car-free public space viewing 360 degree views along the way. The video, below, shows the streetview in use.

Crucially, the Watney Market streetview explores a pedestrianised public space, which the Google Street Car would never be able to reach. The use of an inconspicuous camera phone, also allows the viewer to see this East London market without the distraction of curious bystanders staring back at an elaborate camera rig.

Notable examples of home-made streetviews have previously relied on Google Earth to view their scenes. The Watney Market streetview, however, can be viewed as a simple webpage. The scene was also created without an advanced knowledge of coding or software development, just a typical smartphone and free software and hosting from photosynth.net