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Topic: Has anyone considered collaborating on a MEGA photosynth?

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mr_c_kelly (Over 1 year ago)
As the topic says, has anybody considered using a massive batch of royalty and copyright free images of a place / location and see if Photosynth can consolidate them?

An example would be of the Tower Bridge in London. A quick search on google images shows there are 110,000,000 images, of which there should be enough with the right criteria (daylight, bridge closed, no lizards superimposed - yes, there is a picture in the first 6 pages of results with this).

I know the biggest limitations is the processing time, but I wondered if this may ever happen.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Greetings! 

Your idea is a good one and certainly was the idea behind Noah Snavely's original 'Photo Tourism' http://phototour.cs.washington.edu/ project at the University of Washington (where he was advised by Steve Seitz of UW and Rick Szeliski of Microsoft Research). When Microsoft Live Labs picked up the project through Microsoft Research's TechFest 2006 and decided to combine it with their Seadragon image streaming and zooming technology, they had the same idea that you express above. After all, they were the applied research lab of Microsoft's 'Live Search' engine. If they would have been founded after June 2009, they would probably have been called Microsoft Bing Labs.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
Here's the story of UW to MSR to Live Labs: http://www.uwtv.org/video/player.aspx?dwrid=8282

The two big problems with a company like Microsoft or Google organizing all the world's photos spatially are as follows:

1: Large corporations who make money off of the data they generate are in violation of copyright laws when they use photos that are not licensed as Public Domain, or Creative Commons Attribution. Since the point clouds and 3D models that photogrammetry apps like Photosynth generate could be said to be derivative works of the input photos, they would be in serious legal trouble by taking all photos on the public web and synthing it.

2: The distribution of photos over the Earth's surface is very uneven. At landmarks you may have many photos but the problem there is that most everyone takes their photo from the same spot.
Blaise explains this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cnP8FqRoPI
David explains this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fTcZEeaqRU
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
The idea had always been in Photosynth to link all the photos of a particular location into one single experience (see http://bit.ly/synthlinking for quotes), but because of the legal reasons and because of the rule of nearly everyone shooting landmarks from the same angle in the majority of cases, they decided to use the technology to start their own image hosting site where people would be encouraged to change how we shoot.

If you search for some popular landmarks on Photosynth, chances are that you'll happen across several photosynths that were constructed from image searches on Flickr or the web at large.

For example, I started searching for photosynths of the Statue of Liberty that are already here on the website back in 2010 after French Photosynth community member, Henri Astre, published his Photosynth Toolkit which includes a tool to download the full size photos in a synth. I wanted to combine all of the Statue of Liberty synths into a single one.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
While I was searching, I found several people who were obviously using the same photos of Lady Liberty from Flickr in their synths. 

Robert Sprout got just over 200 flickr photos and synthed them here: 
http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=fcc1b960-612f-415d-a697-db06b31de388

Henri Astre, himself, used his Photosynth Toolkit to combine his own photos from Chichen Itza with photos from other people's photosynths. You can read his topic about it here on the forum: http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=6352296a-76e5-4f2a-96eb-d10fdab0de1f&dis=dd3eedcf-ae6a-47d5-9a3e-ad05991e6d3f

I haven't really done much with the synthing of other's photos. I did investigate trying to make a synth of Jack Lewis' house, 'The Kilns', but there just aren't enough photos to connect the different rooms or sides of the house, though it is a rush when little portions succeed.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
What most of us who have really pushed the synther, as far as we can, have found is that because it is a 32-bit program, there is a limit to how many photos you can really fit into a single synth for the time being.

32 bit applications can only use a maximum of 4 gigabytes of RAM if you have: 
a: have a 64 bit processor 
b: 64 bit copy of Windows and 
c: enough RAM installed that after Windows uses what it needs and whatever else you have open at the same time takes what it needs, there is always 4GB free for Photosynth to use while calculating your synth.

If you are using a 32 bit processor or 32 bit version of Windows, Photosynth can only use 2GB at a time, so the size of your synths will be even more constrained.

More details on maximum synth size in these discussions: 
http://photosynth.net/discussion.aspx?cat=ceca0f30-0f7c-4468-811a-32b623ea8563&dis=4e257d2c-bf39-44dc-8e81-4ec502ee1299
http://gsfn.us/t/179wd
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
What the Photosynth team at Bing Maps has been working on over the past few years is getting back to the dream of connecting multiple photosynths and panoramas together on the map. 

In February of 2010 at TED 2010, Blaise showed a demo of geotagged Flickr photos that were all licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution license being matched to Bing's Streetside panoramas in Vancouver Canada, Seattle, and San Francisco. 

Here's the video: http://www.ted.com/talks/blaise_aguera.html
Here's the demo: http://bit.ly/streetsidephotos
Another video: http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/bing/videoGallery.aspx?contentID=BingMapsFlickr
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
In April of 2011, Blaise gave another sneak peek at how things were progressing under the new moniker of Read/Write World. 

Blaise's demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X9u4JG9H6E
David's demo: http://vimeo.com/22644160
More talks + info: http://bit.ly/readwriteworld

The difference between 2010's Community Tech Preview of Streetside Photos and 2011's Read/Write World's ability to match images in real time is parallel to November 2006's Photosynth Community Tech Preview (where it took weeks to compute a single synth on a cluster of computers) compared to August 2008's release of Photosynth where the computation could be done on a single laptop, often in less time than it takes the photos to upload to the website (as described here: http://channel9.msdn.com/blogs/nicfill/shutterspeed-ep04-the-photosynth-team ).

Hopefully we'll see a Read/Write World beta before mid 2012.
Nathanael (Over 1 year ago)
I hope that gives you some idea of the challenges and what is possible. Let me know if you have any questions.

Your fellow photosynther, 
.nl

P.S. Photosynth doesn't mind photos with superimposed lizards. ^_^
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