Building a virtual world one tourist photo at a time

The phrase “Hey, wanna see my vacation photos?” has stricken fear into the hearts of co-workers and family members since photography was invented. But the combined mass of pics could help build virtual worlds of, well, of the whole photographed world. The University of Washington and Microsoft (believe it or not) have created a jawdropping demo of stitching together disparate photos of the same place into a textured navigable world.

The site is called Photo Tourism, but that doesn’t do justice to what these people have done. Only the videos convey the concept.

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Soon enough this will be integrated with Google Earth and its ilk. A virtually navigable earth at all levels of detail can’t be that far off.

Of course, most tourist photos contain people in them. But that appears not to be such a problem either. Witness Tourist Remover. (Oh, to have this in real life.)

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