The algorithms behind the functionality of Microsoft’s Photosynth offering began as Noah Snavely’s Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Washington. Snavely is now a computer scientist at Cornell University, and he’s working to push the scale of montaging 2D photos to create 3D realities beyond current limitations of dozens or hundreds of photos toward tens of thousands and even millions of photos.
The project dubbed PhotoCity is discussed in detail in a feature in today’s New York Times. A novel approach to this new effort to create large 3D models is that the capability is being built around a social game scenario that will spur competing teams to add and improve images where there is little coverage. Users will be able to use their iPhones to upload collections of digital images.
This harnessing of collaborative approaches seems to be the next map paradigm shift, witnessed recently in the swift OpenStreetMap mapping of Haiti. This next move toward the creation of richly detailed 3D realities as crowd-sourced efforts cuts out the data provider role, and the simpler collection methods that are accessible to all have some serious repercussions for commercial data collectors.
View the gameplay tutorial via YouTube in the video below.