Cool iPhone App Takes 360 Degree Panoramas
Last week I discovered a cool new app for the iPhone that lets you take 360 degree panoramas by automatically snapping photos as you aim the camera and then stitching them together. The app is called Photosynth and it was made, ironically, by Microsoft. While it is certainly far from perfect, the app is a great start and shows just how easy an app like this can be to use. Since this app requires the compass in addition to the camera, it only supports the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, the 4th generation iPod touch (released late 2010) and the new iPad 2.
The concept is simple… you tap the screen to take your first shot and then slowly pan the camera up, down, left and right as it automatically snaps additional photos. I can only guess at how it works but it seems to use the compass to determine direction followed by using the accelerometers to determine the viewing angle combined with image matching from the camera. Another great example of something that would have previously been impossible before all of these sensors began being built into smartphones.
Photosynth also allows you to share your panoramas by publishing them to photosynth.net as well as Facebook. People on computers will be able to view the panorama as long as they have the Microsoft Silverlight plugin installed. The following is a panorama of my kitchen. You can see where it can sometimes have problems lining up the shots but I have a feeling this was due to a changing camera position on my part. I have a feeling that mounting the device to a tripod while using the app will yield much better results.