Ming the Mechanic:
3D City View

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 3D City View2005-02-19 23:18
18 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Ah, I knew somebody had to be doing that. NY Times article (registration required):
Vehicles that move slowly down the street, pausing regularly to take photographs with remote-controlled cameras, tend to make the police a bit nervous. But one trailer loaded with imaging equipment that made its way through the streets of central Philadelphia wasn't spying - although at first, Secret Service agents had their doubts.

Both the vehicle and a plane that flew over the same area were taking authorized pictures of each building and its surroundings, at the behest of the downtown improvement district. Now the terabytes of imaging data are being used to build a three-dimensional model of central Philadelphia, down to the last cornice, mailbox and shrub.

The city model can then be integrated with other information, like listings of shops and rental space, so that one day people who'd rather be in Philadelphia will be able to be there virtually, from their computers. Apartment seekers, for example, will be able to click their way through the neighborhood, taking a virtual walk and checking out the view from the windows of apartments that strike their fancy.

$150,000 per square kilometer for the process of virtualizing a city. Involves a laser scanner, digital phographs from all angles, including above, and GPS positioning. And a lot of processing. The inventor of that particular approach has some stupid reasons for why it is a great thing, like that virtual art galleries would be a great place to meet people. Duh, maybe, but they don't have to be painstakingly digitized from real art galleries. No, it is the increased dimensions and new possibilities that is what is cool. I could get to know a city much faster by flying through it in a 3D simulation than if I had to take the bus and see it all out the window. I could shop for neighborhoods to live in much faster. I could check out a place I'm going, or the route to get there, before I leave. I can be in several places at once, and experience them more completely, ironically, than I could just by being there. So where can we see this thing? There's a demo here.


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18 comments

21 Feb 2005 @ 11:51 by Andrius Kulikauskas @193.219.5.40 : What makes us nervous?
It's a bit bizaare that taking snapshots might make police nervous, but making terabytes of data available to the whole world makes us all feel safer!  


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