Microsoft labs in Cairo have been working on bringing their Photosynth photo-stitching technology to mobile phone video streams in real time, creating a synthetic view with greater viewing angle and more detail, as seen in the video above.
Mobicast, utilises two sets of software – one for the Windows Mobile smartphones and one for a server receiving the video streams. When two or more phones with the software start streaming video, they synchronise their clocks with the server, which then uses timestamps on the footage to align video frames in time. Then image-recognition technology gauges how footage physically overlaps: features such as edges and corners are used to find areas that match, before the images are blended to create a wider view of the scene.
"To do this in real time is very challenging," says Kaheel, but the relatively low quality and frame-rate of video from cellphones makes it possible to do live.
Users received feedback to their phones showing stills of the stitched-together video with their contribution to it highlighted. This helps users to target their phones so as to make the best contribution to the broader picture, says Kaheel.
Bhaskar Roy, co-founder of Qik, says this kind of technology has the potential to enhance services like his own. "Think of somewhere where there will be a lot of people capturing video on phones, like a sporting or breaking news event," he says. "This could bring us closer to experiencing it in 360 degrees from our desk."