Mobile devices will soon be able to map entire buildings in 3D

| Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 16:36
First Published |

This new software offers some key advantages over existing methods

London: Swiss scientists have developed a unique software that can map the entire building in 3D with a tablet and other mobile devices - that too in sunlight.
The software, developed by a team led by Thomas Schops, doctoral student at the Institute for Visual Computing at ETH Zurich, analyses two images of a building's façade that were taken from different positions.
For each piece of image information, each pixel in an image, it searches for the corresponding element in the other. 
From these two points and from the camera's known position and viewing angle, the software can generate a 3D model of the object. 
The new software offers some key advantages over existing methods. One advantage is that it can be used in sunlight. 
Schops developed the software running on the device in cooperation with his colleagues from the group led by Marc Pollefeys, professor of informatics. 
Development was carried out as part of Google's Project Tango, in which the internet company is collaborating with 40 universities and companies and ETH Zurich is one of them.
“Outdoors, our method has clear advantages. Conversely, infra-red technology is better suited to indoor use in rooms whose structures are less pronounced, such as rooms with uniform, empty walls,” explained Torsten Sattler, another co-researcher in a university statement.
The ETH scientists' method works by purely optical means. It is based on comparing multiple images, which are taken on the tablet by a camera with a fish-eye lens.
The ETH scientists programmed the software for the latest version of the Project Tango mobile device. 
“These tablets are still in the development phase and are not yet intended for end users, but they have been available for purchase by interested software developers for a few months now, also in Switzerland,” the authors informed.
Furthermore, the technology could be integrated into cars to allow them to automatically detect the edge of the road or the dimensions of a parking space. 
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