Microsoft Photosynth recreates a 3D environment from a number of 2D photos.

This is of course no trivial task, but the reason I have included it here, is because of its quite… futuristic interface, which has to be experienced. It runs directly inside your browser (also in Firefox! – but why isn’t it based on Silverlight?). Cool (and confusing).

Actually, though it is not quite as polished, the Automatic Photo Pop-up 2D to 3D conversion project, seems even more impressive:

It is possible to run the software yourself:

You will need to convert your input image to PNM format, but ImageMagick supports this format. After that you will need to run the ‘segment’ program to create the superpixel image. (Notice that the link is to source files – on Windows, VS2003 is able to compile it after changing ‘random()’ to ‘rand()’ a few places. I’ve also uploaded a Windows binary, in case you are too lazy).

After that download the Automatic Photo Pop-up software and follow the readme file. There are some detailed instructions here.

I must admit that my humble attempts (requires a VRML viewer) with the software was nowhere as impressive as in the video. Also be aware that the conversion can be very slow for complicated pictures (~30 minutes for my tests).