Software

The best of Photosynth

We'll never tire of the brain-melting swooshy-whooshy 3D photo tool Photosynth. We've picked our favourite 'synths' and they'll blow your mind

Photosynth blew our minds from day one, and now the 3D image technology has matured to the point where there's even an iPhone app.

You can look at popular synths on the site, but we've dived deeper into the archives to find synths that do clever things with the technology, allow you to swoop around geek landmarks, and generally boggle our brains. These are our favourites, divided into two pages -- interesting places and other innovative uses for the technology. When you're done swooshing and whooshing, we'll show you how to create your own synth.

To view synths, first you'll need to install Silverlight, Microsoft's framework for running Web applications. Just click the link in Photosynth, save and run the installer, and you're good to go.

Battersea Power Station, London

Built in the 1930s and abandoned since 1983, the Grade-II listed Battersea Power Station is now best known for appearing on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals and for being on the verge of being transformed into trendy apartments, or a shopping centre, or something.

View from the London Eye

The view from the 135m above our nation's capital on the UK's most popular paid-for tourist destination, the London Eye.

Monument to Computing, Suffolk

Sculpted by Crispin Rope, the Computer Commemoration at Grange Farm makes reference to the work of Alan Turing with its three 'propellers' of lanhelin, containing elliptical, parabolic and hyperbolic cut-outs. It's located on St Isadore's roundabout in Kesgrave, Suffolk, near the site of the Colossus supercomputer.

Microsoft UK campus, Thames Valley Park

Microsoft may be rubbish at making videos, but it's great at making 3D photo applications. This is its UK headquarters in Reading.

Sergels Torg, Stockholm

This synth, of the central square in Sweden's capital, isn't particularly whooshy-swooshy but is a great showcase for high dynamic-range photography. Just look at that sky...

Prague Staré Mesto

The first synth, shot and built by Rick Szeliski, one of the pioneers of Photosynth. Fortunately, he managed to keep all the staggering stag parties out of shot on the Czech capital's Old Town Square.

National Geographic: Stonehenge Revealed

Stonehenge! Where the demons dwell / Where the banshees live and they do live well / Stonehenge! Where a man's a man / And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan / Hey!

Click through for some more oddball uses of the tech.

Photosynth is a wonderful tool for showing off landscapes and great monuments, to be sure, but it can also be put to good use in more intimate environments -- and in some leftfield ways we'd never have thought of.

UK NSC Soyuz Module

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft entered service in 1966. This one is 99 per cent synthy. Na zdorovje!

Rocky statue, Philadelphia

Apparently some stuffed shirts over at City Hall objected to this statue, sculpted by A. Thomas Schomberg for the filming of Rocky III, being placed at the top of the famous steps in the City of Brotherly Love.

'The Moment' final version

More than 600 pictures make up this synth created by CNN, depicting President Obama's inauguration.

Martello tower, inside and out

Martello towers are small forts that were knocked up along the coast of Britain at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. We like this synth because of the way you can explore the fort as well as the outside. And because we like forts.

The Guardian

Photosynth initially launched with a selection of landmarks. Since being opened up to the public, users have come up with new and interesting ways of using the service. The less said about the ladies in bikinis the better... A much more useful application is the hi-resolution scanning of old newspapers, such as this 1988 Guardian front page reporting the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing. It's not particularly synthy, but it's a neat digital take on the old-school microfiche reader.

Halo 3, Last Resort

It's not just real landscapes that can be whooshy-swooshed: there are a number of maps from online blastfest Halo 3. This is the classic Last Resort, a remake of Halo 2's Zanzibar.

Mika and Herself

This neat visual effect shows a girl playing Go, the Chinese strategic board game, first sat on one side and then on the other. But hit P to bring up the tag cloud and it appears that Mika is playing against herself. Zoom out for the clearest effect, then swoop around the two Mikas, or even underneath.

Make you own -- it's a synth

Once you've installed Photosynth, you can create your own synths. You also need a Windows Live ID. If you have a Hotmail account you can use those details, or create a new account with a non-Hotmail email address. Once you've got your Windows Live ID, pick a user name at Photosynth and you're all set.

Synths can be embedded in your site -- as we've done here -- or shared by email. You can also add synths you like to your list of favourites.