Swiss scientists have developed a software that can map an 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 facade 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 software offers some key advantages over existing methods. One advantage is that it can be used in sunlight. 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 technology could be integrated into cars to allow them to automatically detect the edge of the road or the dimensions of a parking space.