I want to share a super cool tool that I have come across that provides a great platform for virtual tours. It's fast, easy, and would be wonderful for classroom tours and creating virtual field trips. Microsoft Photosynth is a free tool that I have known about for a while, but recently I found an aspect of it that makes it even better to use than before (at least to me =).
Photosynth's purpose is to stitch together pictures in order to create virtual environments. This can be done by making a regular synth or a panoramic. See this page for more of an explanation of the difference. My new (to me) finding is the panoramics. They create a smooth environment where you can rotate 360 degrees around a room or space. See some awesome samples here or check out my (not quite as cool but still neat) panoramic below.
There is one little bobble in this panoramic with the trees in sky, but I thought overall it did great,
and I literally did this in no more than 2 minutes!!
- To get started with Photosynth you do need to create an account using a Windows Live ID (you can also create a Windows Live ID from this page). Just go to Photosynth's main site and click Create Account at the top of the page.
- Once you have an account you have a couple of options on creating your Panoramic. You can either use pictures taken from a digital camera and upload them using Microsoft's Composite Editor. After creating your Panoramic just click the Publish to Web button to have it publish to the Photosynth site.
OR - If you have an iPhone or iPad - by far the easiest option is to download the FREE Photosynth app (they say a Windows Phone app is coming soon, but for you Android users that just went awwww try using this app instead (thanks Ricky!)).
The iPhone app for Photosynth is so easy to use (it is what I used for the panoramic above). You just launch the app, tap to start, and then start moving your phone, holding still briefly when you want it to snap a pic (the Photaf app for Android looks to work similarly). Easy peasy!!
- When you're done making your panoramic it will publish to your Photosynth account and you can view it there by logging in. You can also choose to make your panoramic listed or unlisted (use this option if you don't want people to be able to search and find your panoramic), add highlights, and share your panoramic through email or Facebook.
I hope you try it out and have some fun!