March 1, 2009

Geocaching and Photosynth

Besides a GPS receiver and a PDA, or GPS-enabled mobile phone, a geocacher's "other" best friend tends to be a camera. Most cachers I know, myself included, tend to bring along their digital cameras to capture images of their geocaching adventures. If you're like me, you probably have folders on your computer full of digital images from your geocache outings.

In a previous blog post, I described how you can display copies of your digital photos on a map in the exact spot you took the picture from. Today I want to introduce you to another online imaging application called Photosynth. Using this unique tool, you can basically create virtual 3D worlds from your own images.

Here's how the application is described on the Photosynth web site:

Imagine being able to share your photos using the cinematic quality of a movie, the control of a video game, and the detail of the real world. Photosynth examines groups of images for similarities to each other and uses that information to estimate the shape of the subject and the vantage point each photo was taken from. With this information, we recreate the space and use it as a canvas to display and navigate through the photos.

It's really easy to use and doesn't take long at all to create a 3D montage of your photos. The trick is to upload enough photos of your subject to get 360 degrees of coverage.

In the following example, I uploaded all the pictures I could find on my harddrive of Mt. Diablo. Click on the following link to see the results after Photosynth performed it's magic:

Mount Diablo

You'll notice that since I didn't have complete 360 degree coverage, I only scored a "15% Synthy" rating.

I tried again using pictures of a decorated ammo can that I bought at GeoWoodstock VI last year. My results were better (54% Synthy), but still far from perfect:

To get an idea of what a 100% Synthy looks like, check out this amazing example:

Rubik Cube

Spend some time looking at some of the better examples on the web site, and then try using some of your own pictures. I'm looking forward to getting some nice panoramic shots during my next geocache outing and then seeing how they turn out in Photosynth.

Cache On!

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