Microsoft develops phone app that creates 3D models

Some may have issues with Windows, and the Zune may get a few snickers. But Microsoft's R&D arm is always thinking outside the box and creating killer apps that are just plain fun to play with. And their latest gem is a phone app that can create a 3D model out of a series of cellphone camera photographs.

"We want everybody with a cell phone or regular digital camera to be able to capture 3-D objects," says Eric Stollnitz, one of the Microsoft researchers who worked on the project.

The new Phone app is based on the same technology developed for PhotoSynth, that killer app which captured the inaugeration of President Obama and used thousands of photographs sent to Microsoft by people on the scene. PhotoSynth would take images that were uploaded to it's servers and then would then encode each position in 3D space to create an amazing kaleidoscope of images of that exact moment. Researchers have taken the next step and used images from a cellphone to create a 3D model. The phone app takes several pictures of an object at different angles ... say a car. It then uploads those images to a server and the software processes it and assembles the 3D model.

The more images, the more accurate the model. A detailed 360 view of a car would take about 40 images, says Stollnitz. The software compares the photos, calculates depth from the stereo effect, and works out where the angles are in 3D space. Then, it breaks the image apart and molds it into a 3D model in virtual 3D space. Once processed, Users can then download the model and navigate around it with a flick of a finger, navigating around as if they were walking around the object.

Very cool.

[via Technology Review]