Flickr Hack Makes 3D Model of Any City in a Day

Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a method for creating 3D models of pretty much anything in pretty much no time.

Using a sexy algorithm and the millions of photographs available from Flickr, the team can create a sophisticated three-dimensional model on a single personal computer in under a day.

The process was created by a team made of specialists from UNC and colleagues at Swiss university, ETH-Zurich, led by Jan-Michael Frahm. Their proof-of-concept was Rome, which was constructed out of 3 million images in under a day using over-the-counter graphics software, according to UNC.

“Our technique would be the equivalent of processing a stack of photos as high as the 828-meter Dubai Towers, using a single PC, versus the next best technique, which is the equivalent of processing a stack of photos 42 meters tall – as high as the ceiling of Notre Dame – using 62 PCs. This efficiency is essential if one is to fully utilize the billions of user-provided images continuously being uploaded to the Internet.”

They follow-up Rome with the same process on Berlin.

The implications are interesting. Such a process could be, Frahm said, folded into consumer tools like Google Earth and Bing Maps. It could also help both disaster responders, who need a full picture of where they’re headed, and tourists, who want to find out all they can about a location with a click.

Other sources: Futurity

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