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Google Earth Beaten By Autorendering From Photos 176

Posted by timothy
from the klicka-har dept.
Flu writes "Sweden's major engineer newspaper NyTeknik writes about a new technology which is used to automatically convert 60.000 aerial photographs of Stockholm, Sweden, into a 3d-world, similar to Google Earth's rendering of major buildings in some US cities. But unlike Google's laser-measured rendering, this technique took less than 8 days (including the photography) to automatically generate the 3D-model of Stockholm — which includes every building and details as high as individual trees! The program was developed by C3, a subsidiary of the Swedish defense industry company SAAB, together with a PC gaming company called Agency 9. The complete article is available (sorry, Swedish only), but the 3D-rendering of Stockholm is available as a Java applet from the Swedish phone-dictionary service Hitta.se (tick the checkbox — it's an ordinary disclaimer, and click 'Till 3D-kartan')." The technique used gives a cool water-color look to the scenes, too.
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Google Earth Beaten By Autorendering From Photos

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  • first post (Score:5, Funny)

    by alxtoth (914920) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:45PM (#23696949) Homepage
    does playing with the maps count as RTFA ?
  • Game mods (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:47PM (#23696971) Homepage Journal
    How long until someone uses technology like this to do a GTA-like in actual New York City, with real buildings as opposed to Liberty City? Admittedly, that would start getting creepy when you realize those are real residences and the like.
    • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:56PM (#23697037) Homepage
      Then we can plan out bank robberies and gauge the different police reactions in a virtual game before one proceeds to ...

      Oh wait. Someone's at the door. Guantanamo ? But I don't want to go to ...
    • Re:Game mods (Score:5, Informative)

      by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:14PM (#23697143)

      Admittedly, that would start getting creepy when you realize those are real residences and the like.
      Yeah, nothing like that has ever happened before [gamepolitics.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Funny, one of my friends did that with our school I think, but I'm not exactly sure what happened with it. We're in California though, so that story isn't about us.
      • Please do not play your own life-like maps in your own jurisdiction. Just swap your "High School" map for someone else's and everything is fine.
      • by Machtyn (759119)
        I had started work on a CS map of my high school. I had been out for over 7 years, but I thought it might be interesting. I never got past finishing the lunchroom, though.

        I did not have evil intentions with it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Deanalator (806515)
        You know, when that school gets taken over by Russian terrorists, those administrators are going to be very sorry that they deprived the students of the proper training material to take the school back.
    • by AndreR (814444)
      Just imagine, to be able to shoot a rocket launcher at your old high-school.

      Oh god GTA 5 is gonna be great.
    • Re:Game mods (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quarters (18322) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:11PM (#23697411)
      Probably never. Even if the resolution was adequate (which it isn't) and you could somehow extrapolate street level views from aerial photography (you can't) there are still the issues of photo retouching and missing information for stacked spaces. Unless the plane could somehow magically photography the entire city at predetermined times of day and days of the year so that all of the images were lit identically and cast shadows in the same direction/length there would be an astronomical amount of work needed to retouch the source data for continuity. On top of lighting and shadows you'd have to remove all representations of people and cars, etc.. from the source data. Assuming you could get all of that done there's still the problem of missing data from stacked surfaces; tunnels, elevated trains, subways, overpasses, building interiors, etc... None of those spaces can be represented via extrapolated aerial photographs.

      With the amount of dataset rework / additional work that would be necessary to create an artistically pleasing & competitive game with such data it will be a long long time before you see it even coming close to being more cost effective than hand creating a world to fit a game's specific needs.

      • Re:Game mods (Score:4, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:28PM (#23697477)
        I would think that they could extend the technique to process 4 or 5 sets of data in order to eliminate things like shadows and fast moving objects (so cars, people, construction, etc). Probably not cost effective, but I don't think you would need to worry about capturing identical shadows, I think you could make sure that you captured different shadows and then process them out.
        • Re:Game mods (Score:4, Interesting)

          by NickCatal (865805) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @01:52AM (#23698517)
          Exactly

          But also remember, there is a LOT of continuity in cities. Especially on commercial buildings.

          The best one I could think of are those huge industrial chillers that commercial institutions have on their roofs for their AC. There aren't a billion models of them, so if you could somehow detect the model of the AC units in one photo you already have a good amount of geometry going for you.

          Then you figure out what cars are on the street. A Prius has a specific shape that really doesn't change from Prius to Prius, so you know some of the details about every car on the street.

          Manholes are a standard size, if you were to figure out what type of manholes you had in your picture you have more data. How many police boxes and fire hydrants are there in a photo of a NYC block?

          If you gave me a super-high-resolution photo of a city block I could find literally hundreds if not thousands of points of reference. Soda bottles and cans... the list goes on
      • by Guspaz (556486)
        True, but this is still a big improvement over existing solutions. Given higher resolution photos (as technology marches onward), eventually these types of things will get pretty darned accurate.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You're right if you assume that one wants a perfect representation directly derived just from the aerial photos, but that's not necessarily the case. From the aerial photos you can reconstruct an approximate 3D model of the facade of the buildings (by making assumptions about where shadows are or by combining multiple photos from different perspective) and derive a unifromly lit texture for the building. It's not all that difficult with buildings since those tend to be symmetrical and have lots of repeating
        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Well, I don't know about strictly accurate buildings and whatnot but there was a street racing game a few years ago that was set in Sydney, Australia. It was promptly banned because they figured that "car hoons" (Australia treats car enthusiasts slightly worse than they treat paedophiles) might use it to "practice hooning".
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        If you are more interested in artistically pleasingness rather than exactness, a semi-automated content generator for missing data could work fine
    • How long until someone uses technology like this to do a GTA-like in actual New York City, with real buildings as opposed to Liberty City? Admittedly, that would start getting creepy when you realize those are real residences and the like.

      Yeah that was always a dream of mine as a kid. A fully detailed and accurate 3d rendition of a chosen town. Not necessarily with violent ambitions but with the freedom to do as you wish. But if it's GTA we're talking about I'd like to go on a rampage in Tillamook, Oregon [wikipedia.org] =)

      I'm sure the outrage that would commence of real city GTA would be substantial. However if it was marketed as something more mundane it would avoid some concerns I'm sure.

      • by LBt1st (709520)
        The game Driver for Wii has NY modeled out quite well. I've never been to the actual city so I can't say how accurate it is but it seems pretty close for a video game.
        Happy drive-bys!
        • by HAKdragon (193605)
          The original Driver (Playstation, Windows, and Mac) had portions of NY, Miami, San Francisco, and LA and was pretty impressive given the technology at the time.
  • by slarrg (931336) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:48PM (#23696977)
    There is no stranger marriage.
  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by indy_Muad'Dib (869913) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:55PM (#23697027) Homepage
    all the buildings in Stockholm are partially melted, this must prove global warming!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @07:56PM (#23697029)
    This kind of model is what you get when you take the point cloud from Photosynth, mesh it and use the photos as textures.
    • This was exactly what popped into my head too. I wonder if they're using similar technologies.
  • viewing angle (Score:5, Informative)

    by nguy (1207026) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:03PM (#23697077)
    The techniques for recovering 3D shape from photographs have been well known for a while. But if all the pictures you use for the 3D reconstruction are from overhead, the street level view will be missing all the stuff you can't see from overhead. It may be called a "3D model", but it's not a complete or accurate 3D model.

    If you want decent street level views, you really do need street level photographs. And laser scanners are still a lot more reliable than image based 3D reconstruction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's still very cool considering the small time and cost involved. Even if not mm-perfect, it's still invaluable for travellers making plans and virtual tourists alike.
      • by nguy (1207026)
        It would be "cool" if it hadn't been done before and if it were done well. But it has been done before, and done better. Look at the work leading up to the 3D mars renderings by G. Neukum.
    • Re:viewing angle (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rei (128717) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:31PM (#23697487) Homepage
      How long do you think it'll be before there are street level views of, say, Devil's Canyon, the middle of the Namib desert, or halfway up K2? The beauty of this is that it lets you get a map of virtually anywhere from the air. No, it's not perfect. It looks kind of like a cross between a Salvador Dali painting and Magic Carpet; around every corner I expect to see either a melting clock or a balloon picking up mana spheres ;). But the fact is that it was able to be assembled with minimal computational effort from a resource (aerial photos) that is already widely available for many areas -- and, for areas where it's not, can be rapidly gathered. Sounds like a winner to me.
      • Re:viewing angle (Score:4, Informative)

        by nguy (1207026) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @04:39AM (#23698965)
        The beauty of this is that it lets you get a map of virtually anywhere from the air.

        No, that isn't the beauty of "this". These people have done a poor job at 3D rendering from aerial imaging. If you want to see well-rendered photographs based on aerial imaging, have a look at the Mars Express pictures:

        http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Mars_Express/SEM565R03EF_0.html [esa.int]

        That was done 10 years ago, and even then, the underlying technologies weren't new.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Paul Jakma (2677)
          Mars Express also gathered topographical data via RaDAR. So they applied the photos as textures onto a model constructed directly from data. That's not the same thing as deriving the 3D model from 2D photos, as in the case here.
          • by nguy (1207026) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @01:29PM (#23701075)
            Those images were created using a stereo camera and photogrammetry.

            http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/267813.html [psu.edu]

            Why do jerks like you insist on presenting things they imagine to be true as fact?
            • by Paul Jakma (2677)
              Sorry.. What you wrote sounded surprising. I had googled to find references on whether Mars Express had taken RADAR topography measurements, and it had - which made me think you were making things up (earlier imagery tended to be from RADAR).

              I can't undo the moderation unfortunately.
              • by nguy (1207026)
                Thanks for responding.

                It's not the moderation that annoyed me, it's that hype like this really leads to a lot of duplication of effort, as well as bad funding decisions.

                You can bet that Google knows about this stuff and considered it. And, by the results that they show, these Swedish guys look like they have a lot of work to do to catch up with the state of the art.
    • The cup is always half empty for you isn't it?
  • I can literally see my house from here.

    While kind of cool, some buildings and roads get rather squiggly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zappepcs (820751)
      I can't remember where now, but I remember some military contractor type company working to clear up image meshing like this on a robotic vehicle program somewhere (at least I think I do, but now can find no links for it). If they clean up the details with revised software, this would be an awesome terr^H^H^H^H^Hflight training sim setup.

      The story I read was about creating 3D maps from sat pictures, inserting geodata where it was known, and using this as guidance data for unmanned passenger vehicles like th
  • by Chaxid (772696) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:07PM (#23697101) Homepage
    The 3D map looks more like post-apocalyptic Stockholm.
  • That's awesome! The story broke my Bork! filter, though.
  • by MaXMC (138127) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:13PM (#23697137) Homepage
    I'm posting the article in English here with some changes due to Translate.Google not being able to translate everything 100%.

    ---
    Hitta.se beats Google Earth
    with new 3D-technology from Saab.

    Search company Hitta.se has a new Web service that is better than Google Earth to show Sweden in a 3D view. In Stockholm there, for example, every single building as a realistic 3D model.

    With the help of robotics from Saab and the Swedish software for computer games Hitta.se search company has developed a Web service that shows Sweden in 3D and which is clearly better than the corresponding service from Google Earth.

    Directly in the browser, users can zoom in, tilt and turn the flygfotograferade views across the country. With the help of altitude measurements images of the land are created where the mountains and valleys appear with genuine feeling of depth.

    The new service, which launched May 29, is also all buildings from Stockholm, in the form of realistic 3D models.

    Although they can be turned and turned and seen from any height and angle.

    Later this year, including the second appearance of Sweden's largest cities as a complete 3-D models.

    The major competitor in the show Sweden in 3D is Google Earth. But there are only a few dozen 3-D buildings from Stockholm and a few other cities.

    Google's 3D view of Sweden was also much lower quality than that Hitta.se offer. Both in terms of image resolution and altitude.

    -- We have created 3-D feature to give users a more fun and more realistic ways to use our maps, "says Rui de Sousa Brit who is president and CEO of Hitta.se

    But the new service does not yet cover all planned features. Therefore, it's "sneak launched" and goes by the name of "the lab" on the company's website.

    Moreover, such as some 3D buildings refined when the houses angles can be a little crooked and some facades have bad sharpness.

    The technology used was developed by the Swedish companies C3 Technologies in LinkÃping and Agency9 in Lulea.
    C3 is a subsidiary of Saab and develop technology that has its origin in seeker for robots.

    The technology is based on high resolution aerial photography with carefully calibrated cameras. In order to build 3-D model of Stockholm, which covers an area of 200 square kilometres was 60 000 images from 600 metres above sea level, which took three days.

    Then, it took only a few more days to automatically create 3-D model, where even individual trees are included.

    Tommy Johansson who is president and CEO of C3 know that some defence in the world have developed similar technology. But he is not aware of anyone else who introduced the technology for civilian purposes.

    -- We aim to launch our technology globally and believe that, for example, urban planners and businesses similar Hitta.se can become our customers, "says Tommy Johansson.

    Other companies based 3-D models of entire cities primarily use lasermÃtningar to collect 3D data. For example, Google and Microsoft for their service Virtual Earth.

    It is a technology that is much more costly and time consuming than the C3's way.

    Photo and mapping services from Google and Microsoft require users to install special software on your own computer. In Google Earth in the form of a stand-alone program and the Virtual Earth as a plug which is available only for Windows.

    But Hitta.se 3D runs directly into the browser by using javateknik and works for most operating systems and browsers.

    -- I think that both Google and Microsoft may have some problems with sleep when they see the new service from hitta.se, "says Tommy Johansson.

    In order to be able to present all 3D data in the new map in the form of realistic buildings used technology developed for computer games.

    It comes from the Agency 9 of Lulea.
    The company began by building a so-called rendering engine for web games. Eg. software that draws up 3D environments on the computer screen.

    -- But the web
    • by Rei (128717) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:48PM (#23697577) Homepage
      And, for our Swedish readers, I'll translate it back for you.

      ---------

      Heetta.se-a beets Guugle-a Iert
      veet noo 3D-technulugy frum Seeb. Bork Bork Bork!

      Seerch cumpuny Heetta.se-a hes a noo Veb serfeece-a thet is better thun Guugle-a Iert tu shoo Svedee in a 3D feeoo. In Stuckhulm zeere-a, fur ixemple-a, ifery seengle-a booeelding es a reeleestic 3D mudel. Bork Bork Bork!

      Veet zee help ooff rubuteecs frum Seeb und zee Svedeesh sufftvere-a fur cumpooter gemes Heetta.se-a seerch cumpuny hes defeluped a Veb serfeece-a thet shoos Svedee in 3D und vheech is cleerly better thun zee currespundeeng serfeece-a frum Guugle-a Iert.

      Durectly in zee brooser, users cun zuum in, teelt und toorn zee flygffutugrefferede-a feeoos ecruss zee cuoontry. Veet zee help ooff elteetoode-a meesoorements imeges ooff zee lund ere-a creeted vhere-a zee muoonteeens und felleys eppeer veet genooeene-a feeleeng ooff dept.

      Zee noo serfeece-a, vheech loonched Mey 29, is elsu ell booeeldings frum Stuckhulm, in zee furm ooff reeleestic 3D mudels. Bork Bork Bork!

      Elthuoogh zeey cun be-a toorned und toorned und seee frum uny heeeght und ungle-a.

      Leter thees yeer, incloodeeng zee secund eppeerunce-a ooff Sveden's lergest ceeties es a cumplete-a 3-D mudels.

      Zee mejur cumpeteetur in zee shoo Svedee in 3D is Guugle-a Iert. Boot zeere-a ere-a oonly a foo duzee 3-D booeeldings frum Stuckhulm und a foo oozeer ceeties.

      Guugle's 3D feeoo ooff Svedee ves elsu mooch looer qooeleety thun thet Heetta.se-a ooffffer. But in terms ooff imege-a resulooshun und elteetoode-a. Bork Bork Bork!

      -- Ve-a hefe-a creeted 3-D feetoore-a tu geefe-a users a mure-a foon und mure-a reeleestic veys tu use-a oooor meps, "seys Rooee de-a Suoosa Breet vhu is preseedent und CEO ooff Heetta.se-a

      Boot zee noo serfeece-a dues nut yet cufer ell plunned feetoores. Zeereffure-a, it's "sneek loonched" und gues by zee neme-a ooff "zee leb" oon zee cumpuny's vebseete-a.

      Mureufer, sooch es sume-a 3D booeeldings reffeened vhee zee huooses ungles cun be-a a leettle-a cruuked und sume-a fecedes hefe-a bed sherpness.

      Zee technulugy used ves defeluped by zee Svedeesh cumpuneees C3 Technulugeees in LeenkÃpeeng und Egency9 in Loolea.

      C3 is a soobseediery ooff Seeb und defelup technulugy thet hes its ooreegin in seeker fur rubuts.

      Zee technulugy is besed oon heegh resulooshun eereeel phutugrephy veet cereffoolly celeebreted cemeres. In oorder tu booeeld 3-D mudel ooff Stuckhulm, vheech cufers un erea ooff 200 sqooere-a keelumetres ves 60 000 imeges frum 600 metres ebufe-a sea lefel, vheech tuuk three-a deys.

      Zeen, it tuuk oonly a foo mure-a deys tu ootumeteecelly creete-a 3-D mudel, vhere-a ifee indeefidooel trees ere-a inclooded.

      Tummy Juhunssun vhu is preseedent und CEO ooff C3 knoo thet sume-a deffence-a in zee vurld hefe-a defeluped seemiler technulugy. Boot he-a is nut evere-a ooff unyune-a ilse-a vhu intrudooced zee technulugy fur ceefiliun poorpuses.

      -- Ve-a eeem tu loonch oooor technulugy glubelly und beleeefe-a thet, fur ixemple-a, urbun plunners und booseenesses seemiler Heetta.se-a cun becume-a oooor coostumers, "seys Tummy Juhunssun.

      Oozeer cumpuneees besed 3-D mudels ooff inture-a ceeties preemerily use-a lesermÃtneenger tu cullect 3D deta. Fur ixemple-a, Guugle-a und Meecrusufft fur zeeur serfeece-a Furtooel Iert.

      It is a technulugy thet is mooch mure-a custly und teeme-a cunsoomeeng thun zee C3's vey.

      Phutu und meppeeng serfeeces frum Guugle-a und Meecrusufft reqooure-a users tu instell speceeel sufftvere-a oon yuoor oovn cumpooter. In Guugle-a Iert in zee furm ooff a stund-elune-a prugrem und zee Furtooel Iert es a ploog vheech is efeeeleble-a oonly fur Veendoos.

      Boot Heetta.se-a 3D roons durectly intu zee brooser by useeng jefetekneek und vurks fur must oopereteeng systems und broosers.

      -- I theenk thet but Guugle-a und Meecrusufft mey hefe-a sume-a prublems veet sleep vhee zeey see-a zee noo serfeece-a frum heetta.
    • by knarf (34928)
      One small correction: the Swedish word 'robot' translates to 'missile'... so the technology has its origin in seeker heads for missiles, not "in seeker for robots.". In other words, finally all that weapons research leads to something constructive instead of destructive...
  • Google to acquire SAAB
    • by MaXMC (138127)
      That's going to be dangerous...
      Saab. One name. Two companies.
      http://www.saabgroup.com/static/split.htm [saabgroup.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KokorHekkus (986906)
        Yeah, I doubt that Google would want to acquire a major defense contractor (the automotive part was sold to GM and the rest remained in Sweden for most parts). The SAAB AT4 has even been adopteb by the US Army where it's know as the M136 antitank grenade launcher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M136 [wikipedia.org])
        • Re:This just in... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by icegreentea (974342) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:56PM (#23697609)
          Not to mention the Gripen. Damn fine fighter plane. It's maybe a generation or half behind the bleeding edge, but it's cheap.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Carewolf (581105)
            Cheap? It is 4 times more expensive than the F16, which is only a half generation behind Grippen, and twice as expense as the F16 2nd edition which is similar in technology to Grippen but bigger, faster and more powerfull.

            Sorry, butSweden is cheating themselves by insisting on using inferior local technology.
        • by mobby_6kl (668092)
          On the other hand, buying SAAB would also potentially give a whole new meaning to google bot [wikipedia.org].

          Thankfuly, as you mentioned the car manufacturer is now separate, so we won't have to put up with the new invite-only 9-5 Beta! for five years, at which point it would be replaced by a more popular model developed by BMW.
    • by locokamil (850008)
      I for one will be first in line to buy a Googlemobile.
  • Dunno what's the big deal about, I can't even get the thing to work, it just takes up both CPU's and doesn't show anything... On the other hand I can start up Google Earth and it will work in seconds. But that may be some software bug on my side, whatever.

    Anyway, I'm sure this may be cool for people in Stockholm, but unless they plan to expand this to worldwide scale, this will just remain another web's curiosity for the bored and an occasional /.-reading tourist. And, mind you, catching up to Google's amou
    • by imsabbel (611519)
      Well, in my case, this runs a hell of a lot smoother than google earth..
      • by cos(0) (455098)
        In my experience, direct rendering is by far the most important factor in Google Earth's smoothness.

        I have a Compaq nc6400 laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo and an ATI Mobility X1300 video card. Without direct rendering, I am lucky to get three frames per second when Google Earth is zooming/moving. With direct rendering (through fglrx), the smoothness is incredible.

        Same goes for glxgears: full-screen gets me 168 fps with direct rendering, and less than 3 fps without.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Wow, that's slow. With glxgears -fullscreen, I get 245 FPS on a Celeron M 1.6 GHz, with and Intel GMA 950. Acer Aspire 3680.
          • I think you're confusing the download & model building speed (slow) with the rendering & display speed (real-time rotation - SUPER fast)

            Zoom in as far as you can go, tilt the model as far close to horizontal as it will go, then spin the model around it's center point by dragging the compass dial in a circle - you can do this even as the model continues to download and refine itself.
        • This hitta.se 3-D seems to first be buiding a 3-D model, skinning it with photos (maybe tranformed on the server?), then displaying it with D3D or OpenGL. The graphics part of it is ligtening fast - try getting in close to the ground at a low angle (i.e. where you can really see the 3-D model) then rotating the 3-D world with the dial-thingy... I have an old Radeon 9200 card and it still rotates and displays the 3-D model in real-time as I spin it around - damn impressive.
        • I've never had problems with speed on Google Earth.

          Even my Pentium 3 laptop with Intel 815 graphics can do it fairly well.
          Of course there are some pretty horrendous graphic glitches but it does work. ;)
  • Scary ... (Score:4, Funny)

    by brunokummel (664267) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:35PM (#23697255) Journal
    it's kind of scary when you zoom out the whole map and see a "flat world with only Sweeden in the middle.." ... =)
    There may be dragons...
  • slashdotting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonastullus (530101) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:48PM (#23697305) Homepage
    It seems as if the geometries are calculated from scratch in real time.

    This article is gonna have quite an effect on their servers ;)

    At first I though: *yuch* this is awful with the geometries being at very low resolution and with strong artifacts. But as the script kept processing it's looking really good by now, except that it's still hour-glassing and I can't zoom in after minutes.
    • by Raistlin77 (754120) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @08:59PM (#23697361)
      I was able to zoom in fine, but once I zoomed in as far as it would let me, I was quickly reminded of some good shrooms from back in the day...
    • Even at the highest resolution, all the buildings look like they were designed by Frank Gehry.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > It seems as if the geometries are calculated from scratch in real time.

      That wasy my initial thought, but (having watched it load, but not read the (F) article) now I'm thinking perhaps it's just an incremental load of a height field.

      The height-field v. polygon guess is also supported by seeing how bridges are handled - for example, with flat sides that include images of boats striped up them.
  • Do not apologize for Swedish-only! Ingmar Bergman movies are Swedish-only!

  • I thought the reason why Google Maps didn't have ultra-high resolution images was because of government restrictions.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Considering most of the high-res aerial mapping is done on a county-by-county basis (rarely even state-wide) the large number of governmental agencies Google would need to contract with to provide sub-foot imaging is immense. The most common user of high-res aerial mapping is county GIS departments, and very few of them ask for the overlapping stereo images needed to model heights. (Or you could do it with lidar, but again most county auditors have little use for the height data.)
      The COE is still so far b
  • by MrMista_B (891430)
    Beaten how, exactly? This is just one city. Google Earth covers a heck of a lot more than once city. Sure, the rendering is fine, but again, compared to Google Earth as a whole... eh, not what I'd call "beating Google Earth" by any stretch.
    • Technology wise they have beaten Google.

      But I would be genuinely shocked if Google doesnt have similar tech being made.
  • Looks like Stockholm is melting to me! I'm not so sure the accuracy of the technique can compete with Google's current results. This would certainly be a nice "first pass" to get full coverage of a region to be later improved upon by more accurate methods.
  • Okay, I've been waiting for a good 3D rendering of The Pirate Bay -- and all those cute blonde Swedish girls they mention.
  • Very nice. It's beautiful from high angles, and not too bad from low angles. (Middle-click and hold to change view angle, mouse wheel to zoom, left click to pan.) They put in enough photographs to have side images for most of the buildings. It's really impressive when you look at a courtyard from the inside.

    There seems to be some support beyond the height-map level. It usually misunderstands bridges, but in at least one place, it got a multi-level situation right, so they have the right machinery, t

  • Could it run any slower?
    • by antdude (79039)
      Yep, it was slow for me. I don't know if it is because the sever was being /.'ed or that's the normal speed.
  • A disaster! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @09:19PM (#23697443)
    OMG - Stockholm has been hit by an earthqua... oh wait... there it goes...

    this is great! Let me zoom in...

    OMG - Stockholm has been hit by an earthquake!
  • of this new software is that it seems to be fairly automated from the start. Maps all around the world are created using aerial photography, and all the DEM's (digital elevation models) usually represented by contour lines were made by people digitising by hand from stereo aerial photography. This method has created a 3D model of a whole city, in 6 days, I reckon mainly using automatic methods of image matching and DEM creation. There are aerial laser scanners which do the same thing, but are very expensive
  • by doomy (7461)
    This confirms my theory that Sweden is one big giant Marshmallow.
  • If you want to see high quality 3D reconstructions from aerial photographs, go here:

    http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/267813.html [psu.edu]

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=5073723324007466679 [google.com]

  • "Zooma ut"??? What the hell does that mean???
  • I usually see some papers on automated-computer architecture at the annual SIGGRAPH meeting. I didnt see such in the just-announced primarly ppaers section, but there might be stuff in the secondary sessions. www.siggraph.com
  • The chief accomplishment is not that this produces better results than what Google or MSN Live has to offer. It doesn't. There are a lot of odd things, many shapes are a bit off, it can't handle tall buildings at all and if you have something like a bridge the ground level rises up to it. Still, if you're gonna go out and measure every house using lasers, we'll only see 3D views of the biggest US cities. This way it is possible to do it for smaller places, like little Sweden.

    Hats off for Hitta, they've done

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