Microsoft combines Photosynth, Virtual Earth

The new offering is aimed at businesses that might want to use the photo technology

Microsoft has integrated Photosynth, its technology that stitches pictures together, with Virtual Earth, encouraging businesses to combine the two technologies.

The company envisions real-estate agents, tourism groups, retail shops and the public sector using the combined technologies.

A real-estate agent, for example, could plot an available house on the Virtual Earth map and then let people take a virtual tour of the house by navigating through a synth.

The Photosynth technology stitches together hundreds or even thousands of photos into an image that a user can zoom into and navigate around.

Microsoft has also added new permissioning tools that will let a business decide to keep a synth private. That might allow companies to use the technology internally.

An insurance company, for example, could use the technology internally for risk assessment and claims processing, Microsoft said.

Companies can also now apply for commercial licenses to use Photosynth, which removes limits to the number of synths they can make and the amount of traffic they can attract.

To build and view synths in Virtual Earth, people must use Silverlight, Microsoft's runtime and development technology for running Web-based multimedia applications.

Microsoft is featuring a Web site developed for VisitBrighton, a tourism agency, that uses the combined Photosynth and Virtual Earth technologies to let potential visitors look at a map of the town and then closely examine photos of sites such as a museum.

Microsoft first began letting anyone use Photosynth about eight months ago. Since then, people have uploaded 12 million photos to build 350,000 synths, Microsoft said.

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