Most of you probably recall the Photosynth project by Microsoft that gave us some breathtaking 3D navigation of popular areas. We haven’t heard from the Photosynth team in almost a year, but the University of Washington and Microsoft Reasearch have collaborated on some more awe-inspiring technology.

The new project is called “Finding Paths through the World’s Photos,” which is merely a dull name for something really cool. What makes this differ from Photosynth? Transitions, oh glorious transitions. Things like moving from one photo to another makes it feel as though you’re watching a movie. Here’s a description from the research team:

Our approach takes as input a large set of community or personal photos, reconstructs camera viewpoints, and automatically computes orbits, panoramas, canonical views, and optimal paths between views. The scene can then be interactively browsed in 3D using these controls or with five degree-of-freedom free-viewpoint control. As the user browses the scene, nearby views are continuously selected and transformed, using control-adaptive reprojection techniques.

The video demonstration below shows off all of these features, and while it starts off a bit slow give it a minute to pick-up. Could you imagine something like this getting combined with Google Street View?

Finding Paths through the World’s Photos [via istartedsomething]