Microsoft Photosynth – Welcome to the Future of Virtual Tours


Way back in 2006 – which may as well be decades ago in the tech industry – Microsoft demoed a mind-blowing concept called Photosynth. Essentially it was software which stitched together photos taken of a subject from different angles in order to create a 3D viewing experience. While the demo made waves at the time, not much was known about the software’s development and when/if it would ever be released to the public.

However, all that changed when Microsoft unexpectedly released Photosynth as a free application on August 21st, 2008 which let any Windows user create “synths” provided they install the application and create an account. After a couple of days, in which overwhelming demand from curious users such as myself brought the service offline numerous times, I finally was able to check it out.

What I found, in addition to a great tool for letting me show off my vacation photos, was a remarkable opportunity for real estate professionals – because when it comes down to it, Photosynth is essentially the virtual tour of the future. Why spend all the time and effort choosing just the right photos for a virtual tour, or spending all money on a professional photographer to do the work, when you can just shoot everything you can and let Photosynth do the work?

I would imagine prospects would get much more benefit from a tour where they can experience every element of the design and architecture, as opposed to one specific viewpoint. This would undoubtedly lead to a more realistic expectation when it comes time for a showing, saving the agent and the prospect time and money.

If you would like to check out how Photosynth…and Point2 works, feel free to check out the embedded synth of our development area below. If you have ever wondered where the software you use is created, look no further! Also, if you would like to create your own Photosynths, you can learn how by downloading the photography guide here.


  • Fred says:

    1. This product REQUIRES you to download a plug in in order to view. Putting up barriers like that is just a bad idea in this day and age. People won’t do it.
    2. This product is only viewable on a Windows or Vista machine. You’re now also cutting out all Mac users. Now eliminating 10% of the people who MIGHT download a plug in.
    3. This product requires a fairly new computer to run. This also eliminates a whole lot of people using older machines with less horsepower.

    It will fail for the same reason video failed for many years. People will NOT take the time to download a special plug in , install it, THEN navigate back to your site. Video only became popular when it utilized Flash, which is universal on almost all machines.

    It’s a cool product, but it’s a bad marketing idea for real estate. Right now.

  • Chris de Jong says:

    Hi Fred,

    Thanks for the insight. I completely agree with you that Photosynth has a ways to go before it reaches its potential of creating a viable alternative to Flash for media presentation.

    Having to navigate away from your destination in order to install a plugin is a deal breaker for most users – no matter how genuinely cool or engaging it may be.

    However, I also recognize that an application such as this amounts to nothing more than a proof of concept. I am sure the powers-that-be in Redmond are already thinking of ways to make the product more transparent and portable.

    Perhaps native support for IE8?

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