Last year there was a lot of buzz around the first demos on Microsoft’s Seadragon and Photosynth, now from SIGGRAPH08 comes this rather splendid update to underlying technologies and concepts.
There is now a lot more ability for users to navigate and tweak their experience of interacting and browsing a 3D scene using miscellaneous 2D images. I was particularly impressed by the notion of using other people’s photos (from Flickr) to act as the intermediaries in scene reconstructions from your own photos; and the very final simple demo of creating a 3D model of an object by processing a series of handheld 2D images – this would greatly reduce the costs of 3D digitisation for museums.
The toolset used in this new version of the underlying technologies, Bundler, has also been released, so if you have some computer science graduates working in your team you could feasibly give it a burl.
Bundler takes a set of images, image features, and image matches as input, and produces a 3D reconstruction of camera and (sparse) scene geometry as output.