Smartphone app pick: Photosynth

With so many apps out there, it’s hard to find good ones that are easy to use … and free. I’m surprised it took me this long to find Photosynth, which has been out for a year.

Many realtors may remember the 360-degree virtual tour program called IPIX, which was a revolutionary way to present homes online. It cost roughly $100 per tour and was problematic because it required the utmost precision and control, which even top photographers couldn’t master.

If you hire a videographer to give a real tour of your home, that can be expensive, too; I’ve also seen a lot of so-called “videos” where realtors basically get a slide show of still shots set to music.

Of course, now, if you’re savvy enough, you can use your phone to shoot video yourself, and upload it to YouTube on the fly. But what if you want to present a hybrid of video and still images, so viewers can zoom in on items they like?

I discovered Photosynth when my friend Doug Mashino wanted to show me a crazy floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree exhibit at the Hirshorn exhibit in Washington, DC. He captured the image, then tweeted it to me. Click here to try it.

He did his Photosynth on a whim; click here for an exceptional example of one done by a Florida developer of one of their homes. As you can see, you can swing around either way using your mouse or their buttons. You can zoom in on anything you like, and zoom out to get a different perspective. (The zoom is a nice feature that a video can’t give you.)

Although it’s ideal to do a full 360 like the first two examples, you can also just show a simple panorama, like this one of Lanikai Beach.

Best of all, it’s free. Even better, if you mess up, you can just take the image over until you get it right. Your company’s marketing director can now breathe a sigh of relief.
Click here for the iPhone app
Click here for the Windows phone app