Creating 3D Views with Mapillary: The End of Photosynth

Photosynth will be discontinued on the 6th of Februrary. Read on to see how you can create 3D views with Mapillary.

Welcome to Mapillary. We love what the Photosynth community has been able to create and can't wait to see some of the ways you use Mapillary. See what the Mapillary community has been up to lately and how you can get started.

On February 6th the Photosynth website and services will be shut down. Over the years we've been thoroughly impressed with what the team at Photosynth has been able to build and the way in which the community has utilized the tool to create some amazing synths. Both Photosynth and Mapillary share a similar vision by allowing people to create immersive 3D views of places they visit. As Photosynth wraps up, we know there are still many out there who are looking for a way to reconstruct an environment through photos. This is why we're encouraging everyone who has loved Photosynth to give Mapillary a go and photo map their local area. Take a look at our introduction to Photosynth contributors.

Mapillary is definitely not a replacement for Photosynth. There are many differences with each tool excelling in its own ways. For example, Photosynth has made it really easy to transition between a large number of photos. While we have leveraged Structure from Motion (SfM) to provide a similar effect, you will find yourself clicking a bit more through photos. On the plus side, we've been working on some really exciting features in the computer vision space. Take a look at dense 3D point clouds, object detections and semantic segmentation to get an idea of what we've been working on.

Mapillary 3D Views

Ultimately, however, both tools provide a way to record and then visualize the world around you. Beyond visualization, Mapillary and our community use contributed photos to better understand locations. Here are some examples.

Create virtual tours of remote locations

Because you can capture photos using your smartphone, there are no limits on where you can take Mapillary. Our community is helping to create a photo map in remote areas or places which are generally harder to access. Some recent examples include the Faroe Islands, Antarctica, Saint Paul Island and Cuba (below).

A photo map of bike paths in Finland

Cycling is becoming more popular in cities around the world for environmental, health and practicality reasons. Consequently, cycling advocacy groups are becoming more widespread, helping to document and promote the needs of cyclists. To communicate to stakeholders visually, groups are using Mapillary to photo map cycling paths and/or areas that sorely need them. In the viewer below you'll see the work of the City of Espoo in Finland and the company Gispo. They organised an event for local cyclists to ride around and take photos for Mapillary so that a comprehensive database of bike lines in the city can be developed.

Crisis mapping in Tanzania

Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa, attracting migrants from across the country. One of the challenges this poses is rapid urban development, much of it unplanned. This development often takes place in low-lying areas or near waterways which regularly flood due to heavy rains and/or poor drainage. This creates dangerous situations for residents as many properties and services are left innundated with water.

The Ramani Huria project has been successfully mapping these areas to know exactly where properties are located and how the movement of water impacts them. Students, urban planners, community members, local government officals and international experts have all been working together to address the flooding and map Dar es Salaam. Take a look at the 360º photos below which were gathered by the team and used to add more details to the map such as road quality and building purpose.

Those are just some ideas to inspire. Given the creative ways Photosynth has been used, we're looking forward to seeing the innovative ways you make the most of Mapillary. Once you've signed up, you can start taking photos using our app on iOS, Android and Windows phone. You can also use other cameras like action cameras, 360 cameras or any camera really, as long as you are also recording GPS information. Don't forget to sign up if you haven't already and reach out to us if you have any questions on getting started.

Win an LG 360 Cam

LG 360 Cam

To help you take even more immersive photo sequences, we're giving you the chance to win an LG 360 camera. All you have to do is share your favourite Mapillary photo on social media1. To enter, post a link to your favourite Mapillary photo sequence together with the hashtag #MapillaryExplore and a comment why it stands out to you. Send us a link to the post or a screenshot via email to confirm your entry.

We’ll make a selection based on creativity and announce the winner on February 10th 12:00pm UTC.2

If you have any questions about getting started or just want to say hello, we'd love to hear from you.

1. 'Social media' includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

2. The winners will be contacted via email. Expect a delivery time of three weeks after the challenge close. Mapillary will cover the freight but please note that the winner will be responsible for custom duties or other costs relating to receiving the prize. If the address is an area where postage can be made difficult, we may seek alternative arrangements to ensure delivery.

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