Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Online Vacation Photos Create 3-D Models Of World Landmarks

Date:
November 5, 2007
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Online collections of photos, such as Flickr and Google, were used to create precise 3-D models of buildings and landmarks. The method could speed the development of 3-D digital maps by tapping the vast supply of photos on the Internet.

A virtual reconstruction of the Statue of Liberty, created from tourists' photos.
Credit: Michael Goesele, TU Darmstadt

More than 10 million members of the photo-sharing Web site Flickr snap pictures of their surroundings and then post those photos on the Internet. One group at the University of Washington is doing the reverse--downloading thousands of photos from Flickr and using them to recreate the original scenes.

A presentation in October at the International Conference on Computer Vision showed how photos from online sites such as Flickr can be used to create a virtual 3D model of landmarks, including Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

"The big breakthrough here is being able to compute very accurate 3D models from people's vacation photos," said co-author Steve Seitz, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering. "The long-term vision is to be able to reconstruct the detailed geometry of all the structures on the surface of the Earth. Many people are working toward that goal, but by using online collections this work brings in a whole new source of imagery and level of detail."

Online photo-sharing Web sites such as Flickr and Google are popular because they offer a free, easy way to share photos. Flickr now holds more than 1 billion photos; a search for "Notre Dame Paris" finds more than 80,000 files. The study authors, experts in computer vision, believe this is the world's most diverse, and largely untapped, source of digital imagery.

But the freely available photos do present a challenge: these are holiday snapshots and personal photos, not laboratory-quality research images. While some may be postcard-perfect representations of a setting, others may be dark, blurry or have people covering up most of the scene.

To make the 3D digital model, the researchers first download photos of a landmark. For instance, they might download the roughly 60,000 pictures on Flickr that are tagged with the words "Statue of Liberty." The computer finds photos that it will be able to use in the reconstruction and discards pictures that are of low quality or have obstructions. Photo Tourism, a tool developed at the UW, then calculates where each person was standing when he or she took the photo. By comparing two photos of the same object that were taken from slightly different perspectives, the software applies principles of computer vision to figure out the distance to each point.

"The general principle is very similar to how our eyes work," said lead author Michael Goesele, a former postdoctoral researcher at the UW who is now a professor at Technische Universitδt Darmstadt in Germany. "You get multiple views from different points of a scene, and then you find the same point in different views and infer from that the depth of the object."

In tests, a computer took less than two hours to make a 3D reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, using 151 photos taken by 50 different photographers. A reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral used 206 images taken by 92 people. All the calculations and image sorting were performed automatically.

"We don't quite get the accuracy of a laser scanner, but we're in the ballpark," Seitz said. The recreations of Notre Dame show individual figures carved into the stone facade. A model of The Duomo in Pisa, Italy, a building about 160 feet tall, is accurate to within a few inches. The resolution of the 3D model mostly depends on the resolution of the original photos.

Creating 3D reconstructions of individual buildings is a first step in a long-term effort to recreate an entire city using online photographs.

"We've downloaded about 1 million photographs of Rome from Flickr," Seitz said. "We want to see how much of the city we can reconstruct--including exteriors, interiors and artifacts." The group hopes to make significant progress on the Rome project over the next couple of years, he said.

Other co-authors on the recent paper were Noah Snavely, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering; Brian Curless, a UW associate professor of computer science and engineering; and Hugues Hoppe, a researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash. The research was funded through grants from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Microsoft Research and Adobe Systems Inc.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Online Vacation Photos Create 3-D Models Of World Landmarks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071101191441.htm>.
University of Washington. (2007, November 5). Online Vacation Photos Create 3-D Models Of World Landmarks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071101191441.htm
University of Washington. "Online Vacation Photos Create 3-D Models Of World Landmarks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071101191441.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) — 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Facebook Earnings Put Smile on Investors Faces

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 23, 2014) — Facebook earnings beat forecasts- with revenue climbing 61 percent. Bobbi Rebell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins