Imagine that you stood in one place and took a bunch of photos in different directions. Now imagine that you printed these photos onto glass sheets and arranged them in the same planes that they were shot: the picture you took of the sky is horizontal, facing down. The mountain off to the left is upright and facing right.
Now imagine that these pieces of glass magically intersect to make a lattice which you can turn to view, and that those pieces of glass disappear from view when they are edge on.
You just imagined Stilla, a great new iPhone app which does all of this for you, without harming a single sheet of glass.
Stilla uses the iPhone’s gyroscope to know exactly where it is when you snap a series of photos. These are then combined into a digital sculpture which is previewed in a thumbnail at the bottom right of the screen, along with a number to tell you how many photos you have taken.
When you’re done, tap the thumbnail and take it for a whirl. The semi-transparent planes fade away when one photo is face-on, and the rendering is instant. As a stay-at-home blogger I have only tried shooting pictures of my feet, my desk and my office walls, but I imagine that this thing will really shine when taken out into landscapes and cityscapes, as it really does give you the sense of exploring a place.
You can of course just hand you iPhone (or iPad — it works great pixel-doubled) to someone to see, but you can also export the photos individually as regular picture files, or upload the 3-D image sculpture to Stil.la’s servers for sharing via Twitter, Facebook or email. If someone with the app clicks the link, it opens the Stilla for viewing. If they’re at a computer, they can view it in a browser and use the mouse to spin it around (Chrome just works, and Safari needs to have 3-D rendering switched on in the Developer Menu).
I don’t think I’ll be using it all that often, but I’ll certainly be using it whenever I want to remember a place, or even to send to people instead of a postcard when I go on vacation. Stilla is available now for $2.