Technical trial

Microsoft is collaborating with the BBC to demonstrate how its Photosynth technology can be used to build 3D representations of historic sites in the UK.

Microsoft Live Labs is collaborating with the BBC in a technical trial to demonstrate how its Photosynth technology can be used to build 3D photographic representations of historic sites throughout the UK.

Photosynth combines hundreds or thousands of regular digital photos of a scene to present a detailed 3D model, giving viewers the sensation of smoothly gliding around from every angle. The scene can be constructed regardless of whether the photos are from a single or multiple sources.

The online 3D viewing experience is running in conjunction with the BBC’s new series “How We Built Britain” ( beginning now and running through mid-July.

Viewers will be able to explore Photosynth representations of Ely Cathedral, Burghley House, the Royal Crescent, Bath, the Scottish Parliament buildings and Blackpool Tower Ballroom at

The BBC will also have units on location at each of the historic sites to collect images from tourists visiting the sites. The “synths” will then be updated during the television series with a selection of these images.

By clicking and dragging their mouse, visitors to the site will be able to explore a building, zooming in to see the smallest decorative detail, or zooming out and panning through 360 degrees to place the building in a wider context.

‘This opportunity with the BBC allowed us to test the limits of the Photosynth technology by integrating photographs from decades ago of the United Kingdom’s historic sites along with those of the general public today. We’re eager to see how people tell their stories with this new interactive medium,’ said Adam Sheppard, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs.

Photosynth is a collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Washington based on the groundbreaking research of Noah Snavely (UW), Steve Seitz (UW), and Richard Szeliski (Microsoft Research).