If you’ve browsed through a major car manufacturer’s website in recent years, you’ve probably made use of a 360-degree view feature—slick, rotatable images that let you click-and-drag a car into any angle. Microsoft researchers have created a mobile app that lets anyone make one of these cool interactive presentations without any special equipment. All the user has to do is shoot a handful of pictures with a cell phone or camera, and the software does the rest.
Watch how it works in the video below.
Once you’ve taken photos of an object from multiple viewpoints, 25 or less for small items or around 40 for something as big as a car, they get uploaded to a server for processing. The software compares the different views to create a photo-realistic 3D model of the object, then uses the model to produce a presentation as smooth as those professionally-made auto ads. What makes the project truly impressive is that you don’t have to shoot the images from the same height, or even perfectly straight. The software can take a handful of casually-taken photos and produce a 360 image with a stabilized view—no jerky transitions from sloppy camera work.
The software is still in development, but if it goes on to be a full-fledged product we could see it getting a lot of use from small online businesses who want to show off their products.