Photosynth App: Make awesome interactive panoramas of every direction

Oh my god, Microsoft actually did something that works really, really well. Who would’ve thought it?

I’m currently travelling and there’s nothing like going on a holiday to test out travel apps and see what can and can’t work when you’re on the move, going on tours and have limited Internet connection.

First let me say, I’m writing this of my own accord and I’m not being paid or anything – I just like to write about the apps that I use that I find useful and reckon the rest of the geek community will find useful too.

A while ago my friend showed me this cool app called Photosynth that looked awesome, but I didn’t really have much opportunity to use it. Basically it is a panorama stitching application that allows you to move your iPhone around and it automatically captures images and then once you press done, it stitches the image together into a full sphere panorama that you can scroll around a and look at from all angles.

It has actually been really fun creating some awesome panoramas of some of the ancient sites I’ve visited.

Here are a few links to some of the ones I’ve been creating while in Turkey:

The courtyard to the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.

A view from the top of a mountain in Cavusin.

The view from the top of the Daphne Hotel in Istanbul.

A full 360 while on a hot air balloon ride – this one I didn’t move my hand. I just held my phone and let it capture as the basket itself rotated around. Was magnificent!

A breathtaking Cathedral carved into a mountain at the Selimiye Monastery.

At Pammukkale – Heirapolis under the Byzantine rule. – Pammukkale means “cotton castle” and you can see why with these undulating waves of calcium carbonate, weathered down by the natural hot springs.

If you go to the Photosynth website (or the apps) you can check out some of the other cool ones people have created and uploaded publicly.

The app has a function of geo-tagging your photos and uploading them to Bing maps (of course, because it’s Microsoft) and you can also upload a link to your interactive panorama to Facebook and share it with your friends (even if they don’t have Photosynth). I suppose it would be to much too to ask for a Google Plus uploading function though.

The annoying thing is I don’t have a constant 3G connection (everyone knows roaming data charges is how you drain your bank account) so I can’t tag the places I am at when I am at those places. I don’t know if it’s just because Turkey isn’t covered very well by Bing Maps but I am having trouble trying to give some of my photos a place later – and some of them have randomly decided they were taken without a place and I can’t add one. It’s a bit of a frustrating feature if you are keen to share your panoramas with the world.

I also found that the application took a bit of practice. The first few panoramas I created had a few inconsistencies and didn’t come out too well, but eventually I got the hang of it, with only a few glitchy bits in the stitching that can be overlooked.

But I think functionality goes beyond just tourism: I would imagine it would be a great way to capture rooms in a house you were inspecting for housemates who couldn’t make it to the inspection time. I’m sure there are other ingenious ways to use it that creative people across the world will soon think of – homemade interactive adventure games maybe? That could be a fun project…

What other uses could you think of for this app?

[Photosynth available on iPhone and Windows 7.5 and above available on iTunes and the Windows Market Place]