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Google Earth Beaten By Autorendering From Photos

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the klicka-har dept.

Earth 176

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 (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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first post (5, Funny)

alxtoth (914920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696949)

does playing with the maps count as RTFA ?

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696989)

no but then again nobody ever RTFA anyway

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23696997)

you get half credit

Re:first post (4, Funny)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697525)

I had a little trouble. It was nothing like the Swedish I learned on the Muppets.

Re:first post (3, Funny)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698057)

You should feel right at home here [] , then.

Game mods (4, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696971)

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.

Re:Game mods (5, Funny)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697037)

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 (4, Informative)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 [] .

Re:Game mods (2, Interesting)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697721)

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.

Re:Game mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697829)

That's funny, me and one of my friends started working on a map oh my California school back in high school. But map making is too tedious, so it never got past a rough start on the first building.

Attention game mappers (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697825)

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.

Re:Game mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697211)

That would be neat to see. The absurd notion copyrighting images of locations and demanding royalties will likely be an inhibitor of such efforts. An example of such concerns was found detailed at this image database site: .

Re:Game mods (1)

AndreR (814444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697289)

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 (0, Redundant)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697627)

The Department of Homeland Security has noted your suggestion and a couple of agents will be over to interview you regarding this suggestion further. Please remain where you are until they arrive.

Re:Game mods (4, Insightful)

Quarters (18322) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23698023)

Hmmmmmm.... and all this time I thought there were things called "computers" that have no problem doing repetitive tasks. It's almost like they're born to retouch data for continuity and supply a much wanted demand for actual life-like cities for games since a game like that with good play would sell forever. Google hires cars to drive around. That plus this seems like money in the bank.

Re:Game mods (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697483)

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 [] =)

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.

Re:Game mods (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697679)

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!

Re:Game mods (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697827)

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.

Re:Game mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697737)

"Dammit! I think I just shot the virtual version of me"

Java applet served by an ASPX page (4, Funny)

slarrg (931336) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696977)

There is no stranger marriage.

Re:Java applet served by an ASPX page (4, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697097)

They could be using J# on the server.

I guess.... (-1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 6 years ago | (#23696983)

we shouldn't expect too many useful comments until someone can provide a translation. Can anyone tell me the point of submitting an article (or for that matter the submission being approved) if the article is not in English? At least we can play with the maps like the FP did.

Re:I guess.... (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697099)

I believe the majority of /.'s audience is international, though obviously not Swedish. Someone from VA would have to confirm this.

Re:I guess.... (3, Insightful)

Colz Grigor (126123) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697117)

No one from VA needs to confirm that 100% of /.'s audience is international. It's a known fact!

Now, were you trying to suggest that a majority of /.'s audience resides outside of the U.S.? That's a bit different...

::Colz Grigor

Re:I guess.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697591)

Netcraft confirms it.

Re:I guess.... (0, Redundant)

alexhard (778254) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697165)

The language is irrelevant as nobody reads the articles anyway.

Wake me when....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697017)

they include bikini clad Swedish babes.

Re:Wake me when....... (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697105)

Coulda been a cold day. Man, Stockholm is beautiful. I would like to visit.

Re:Wake me when....... (2, Funny)

furbearntrout (1036146) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697515)

Coulda been a cold day. Man, Stockholm is beautiful. I would like to visit.
ahh, nippies [] .

Re:Wake me when....... (0, Troll)

menkhaura (103150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698083)

Translates to something like "Air-conditioning by default". A car ad. Yeah, in Brazil not all cars come with air cooling.

OMG (5, Funny)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697027)

all the buildings in Stockholm are partially melted, this must prove global warming!!!

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697113)

Looks fine here, but it takes a long time to render properly. Probably my slow connection.

Re:OMG (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697539)

I sure it can't be load related...

Re:OMG (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697769)

Some buildings look ok, some look like they have been made out of Jelly, some look like they encoutered some sort of temporal anomaly. Guess Googles method with laser-measurements has a reason, but it's still impressive to see what can be done with Autorendering from Photo's.

Microsoft was so close... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

viewing angle (4, Informative)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:viewing angle (2, Informative)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697181)

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.

Re:viewing angle (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697487)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697613)

Just look at the castle on the big islands north east corner. It has a hole in the wall that reaches up to the roof and the street on the north east of the castle are way to bumpy.
In this system there is too much aligning going on which at the end makes it look aweful. The google system takes more resources but the quality is much better.

Nifty. (1)

Stackster (454159) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697079)

I can literally see my house from here.

While kind of cool, some buildings and roads get rather squiggly.

Re:Nifty. (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697173)

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 the latest DARPA challenge.

Theoretically, if you can update photos every other day, you could use this to map alternate routes for drivers, and correct inconsistencies in map data for Google maps and Yahoo maps et al.

It's all about the speed of updates. I'd think a single helicopter flying with a rather fancy camera setup (something like they use for capturing a murder scene etc.) could cover a metropolitan area in a day, crunch the photo data, update... presto, accurate maps. Even 8 days is pretty damn fast.

Sure this is Stockholm? (5, Funny)

Chaxid (772696) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697101)

The 3D map looks more like post-apocalyptic Stockholm.

still awesome (1)

CraniumDesigns (1113153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697123)

why are you guys bashing on this? "oh its crap cuz its not perfect???" its still freakin cool that it can be done simply from a bunch of aerial photos. i think its cool as hell and i look forward to it being even more refined. time to make some game maps, like CS or GTA.

Re:still awesome (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697201)

because it's just a height field? cool, sure. but acting like it's some kind of 3D model is sort of like acting like your not a virgin because you jacked off last night. may have felt good, but you're not fooling anybody.

Re:still awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697439)

Fooled your mom.

(before she died)

Pretty cool. (1)

nastro (32421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697127)

That's awesome! The story broke my Bork! filter, though.

Translation with help from Google. (5, Informative)

MaXMC (138127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697137)

I'm posting the article in English here with some changes due to Translate.Google not being able to translate everything 100%.

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

Search company 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 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 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

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 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 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, "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 games has not really taken off, so now we are betting on this instead, "said Khashayar Farmanbar who is president and CEO of Agency 9.

Since C3 and Agency9 found each other through cooperation with is planning the two companies to work together to promote complete 3-D package to build Web-based services.

-- We will, together with C3 also be able to offer the technology to build 3D services that can be used in mobile phones, says Khashayar Farmanbar.

Both he and Tommy Johansson believe that it is perfectly possible to develop a service that is similar to that from that can run on a mobile.

Re:Translation with help from Google. (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697577)

And, for our Swedish readers, I'll translate it back for you.

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

Seerch cumpuny 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 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 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

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 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 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, "seys Tummy Juhunssun.

In oorder tu be-a eble-a tu present ell 3D deta in zee noo mep in zee furm ooff reeleestic booeeldings used technulugy defeluped fur cumpooter gemes.

It cumes frum zee Egency 9 ooff Loolea.
Zee cumpuny begun by booeelding a su-celled rendereeng ingeene-a fur veb gemes. Ig. sufftvere-a thet drevs up 3D infurunments oon zee cumpooter screee. Bork Bork Bork!

Re:Translation with help from Google. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697777)

Look what you've done! Now we're in an infinitely recursive loop of.. of... I can't even say it... THIS MADNESS MUST STOP!

If only we had a Swede John Carmack talking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697787)

And, for our Swedish readers, I'll translate it back for you I'm.

--------- beets Guugle-a Iert I'm
veet noo 3D-technulugy frum Seeb I'm. Bork Bork Bork! I'm

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

This just in... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697157)

Google to acquire SAAB

Re:This just in... (1)

MaXMC (138127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697259)

That's going to be dangerous...
Saab. One name. Two companies. []

Re:This just in... (2, Informative)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697297)

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 ( [] )

Re:This just in... (3, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:This just in... (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697635)

On the other hand, buying SAAB would also potentially give a whole new meaning to google bot [] .

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.

Re:This just in... (1)

locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697309)

I for one will be first in line to buy a Googlemobile.

At least google earth works (2, Insightful)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697175)

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 amount of maps and images and databases would not be an easy thing to do.

Re:At least google earth works (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697199)

Well, in my case, this runs a hell of a lot smoother than google earth..

Re:At least google earth works (1)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697291)

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.

Re:At least google earth works (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697409)

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.

Re:At least google earth works (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697559)

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.

Re:At least google earth works (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697429)

This 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.

Re:At least google earth works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697939)

Runs just fine on my 2.5 ghz p4. Maybe your dual core machine is just too awesome to run software.

It is really cool. If it would benefit from google's image database, google should buy it. Or they should buy the images from google. or something. It's pretty awesome.

Scary ... (3, Funny)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697255)

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...

It crashed my Firefox 3 RC2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697257)

Not sure if its a java bug or not. Guess I'll try to debug. I love open source.

google hate (0, Troll)

Haxx (314221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697301)

    Looks like Google is the new Micro$oft for Slashdotters. Any IT company that dominates the market share is the enemy?

Re:google hate (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697373)

I was unable to find any comment that was negative to google, so, are you a clairvoyant who decided to make that rant before the anti google comments came?

Re:google hate (3, Insightful)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697545)

Not quite. They're commenting on the fact that Google (a company that is known for excellence) has had one of their offerings beaten by using a simpler technique. This isn't a "google hatefest", it's just cool.

slashdotting (4, Interesting)

jonastullus (530101) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697305)

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.

Re:slashdotting (4, Funny)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 6 years ago | (#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...

Re:slashdotting (1)

legutierr (1199887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697585)

Even at the highest resolution, all the buildings look like they were designed by Frank Gehry.

Real-time geometry calculation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697797)

> 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.

Re:Real-time geometry calculation (1)

Freebirth Toad (1197193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697995)

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.
Also, the trees in at least one park look like they are gigantic piles of leaves.

Re:slashdotting (1)

Freebirth Toad (1197193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698127)

This article is gonna have quite an effect on their servers ;)
Perhaps that's why the buildings are melting.

"Sorry, Swedish only"?! (1)

ewg (158266) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697307)

Do not apologize for Swedish-only! Ingmar Bergman movies are Swedish-only!

Re:"Sorry, Swedish only"?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697427)

Yeah, but /. is English-mostly!

Tjenare hejsan!

Re:"Sorry, Swedish only"?! (1)

wootest (694923) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697615)


Illegal in the States? (1)

Jicksta (760596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697321)

I thought the reason why Google Maps didn't have ultra-high resolution images was because of government restrictions.

mnb Re:Illegal in the States? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697405)

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 back in the stone-ages they want traditional sections run, and are not large users of aerial mapping. (Not as large as they should be.)

That said, the volume of high-res photos out there is huge. We just finished up a state-wide lidar job of XXXXX, with elevations provided (post vegetation and building removal) tight enough to provide 6" contours. The accompanying images are 3" resolution. Where can you get the images? I have no idea.
We do similar work for the FAA. (Only practical way to do obstruction surveys is with photogramitry.) Do they release those 1/4' images? I do not know.

There is no reason to believe Google shows poor-quality images for any reason outside an unwillingness to pay for the acquisition.
Have you seen the high-res obliques Microsoft provides now? Those clearly aren't banned in the name of security.

Ask your local Auditor for a copy of their aerial mapping data - often it is free or for a nominal fee. (varies county by county and state by state in my experience, everything from 10 DVDs for free to $100 per CD)

Google Earth Beaten? (2, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697341)

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.

Re:Google Earth Beaten? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697401)

Absolutely agree with MrMista_B... Slashdot summary of the story is terrible.... This "demo" has small converage, low resolution geometry models, and absolutely no geo-spatial meta data, so in what way does it "beat Google Earth." Beside, how do you know how long it took Google to generate their models of equivalently-sized cities. If they are generated from laser data, don't you think it probably takes less than 8 days on a million machine cloud?

Stockholm is melting! (1)

Arakageeta (671142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697375)

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.

Sweden, Huh... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697379)

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. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697391)

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, they just need more oblique photos in the difficult areas.

No speed demon (1)

gregraven (574513) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697407)

Could it run any slower?

Re:No speed demon (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697455)

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! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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!

the point... (1)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697551)

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. I can't look at the final product now, I reckon it got /.'ed into the ground, but the next 'clever' thing to do once you have a big ol' DEM is to make an algorithm that squares up the buildings! I wonder if we can digitise all the old film photography which covers a majority of the world, and image matching from that, can google automate the task of creating a DEM of the entire world to accuracies of less than 1m ? That would be cool.

60.000? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697567)

Only 60 images?

Good for flight simulators (1)

Carrion Creeper (673888) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697727)

Sweden looks good from reasonable flying height.

Anything lower and I'd expect ghouls and zombies to start leaping out at me.

soo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697773)

So... how many people just clicked through the java applet "trust this provider" thing? How many people stopped to think "Hmm, maybe this is the swedish intelligence service trying to 0wn my system"?

60 (0, Redundant)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697859)

Sixty point zero zero zero images doesn't sound like much.

Emre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23697873)

Google should acquire Sweden!

ahem (1)

ushdfgakjj (1286922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23697881)

Any minute now we'll find ourselves foot-deep in Neil Stephenson's terrifying vision of the Internet. Except it won't suck like Second Life did.

can someone translate this for me? (1)

TheCeltic (102319) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698193)

Does it mean "We've been slashdotted", our nifty new technology relies on active-x and therefore can't scale for beans.... Not to mention it's lack of security.


Dina drivrutiner Ãr inte uppdaterade. FÃr att kunna kÃra " 3D" behÃver du uppdatera till senaste drivrutinerna.

Mer information om vad som krÃvs fÃr att kÃra 3D hittar du i FrÃ¥gor & svar"

Impressionist (1)

architimmy (727047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698201)

This is sort of cool. It's kind of like an impressionist model. I'm not exactly sure why the applet seems like it's interpreting and processing all the data locally though... Kind of slow. I could imagine this sort of thing being handy for quick pre-vis stuff I do all the time at my architecture job. That is if it looked sharper. Right now it's a bit amorphous.

tick the checkbox -- it's an ordinary disclaimer (0, Troll)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23698259)

...and when it asks "Install ActiveX Zombie Client", click OK -- it's an ordinary dialog.

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