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DIY Google Street View Project?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the wish-you-were-here dept.

Earth 106

Ismenio writes "Does anyone have any ideas for a do-it-yourself Google-Street-View-like project on the cheap? I am planning to visit a few places outside the US that are important to me, and would like to be able to set up a site for friends and family to visit and give them the Street View-like experience so that they could navigate, pan and zoom in the areas I have. Though being able to use GPS coordinates would be great, that's certainly something I can do without. I know I can take pictures and stitch them together to create panoramic views, but I would like to be able to also navigate though some streets. Would it make sense to record it with an HD camera, then batch export frames as pictures? Is there any software in the open source community that I can use?" Ismenio includes links to some related pages: Popular Mechanics' look at the camera tech used for Street View, and a company that claims better panoramic image technology than Google's.

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I worked on this for a while.... (5, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982825)

Basically, webcams suck for this. They get washed out and are basically worthless. Also the CPU required is prohibitive.

IPcams, while better, have limited resolution.

So you're really looking at using cameras run through libgphoto and some custom scripts. You need a lot of storage, and you need the right camera.

It's doable with gphoto and a handful of Canon cameras, but be prepared to spend lots of $YOUR_LOCAL_CURRENCY.

OTOH, if you get a travelcam going, I'd love to contribute; I haven't given up hope yet.

If you look at rtrees, you can even look up the nearest landmark and tag your images with '2.3 miles southeast of $BIG_BEAUTIFUL_LANDMARK.

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (5, Informative)

citizenr (871508) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982993)

It's doable with gphoto

libptp
for canons : http://capture.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
others http://www.gphoto.org/doc/remote/ [gphoto.org]

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983487)

Gah! You're absolutely right. I had that in mind but my fingers didn't.....

Why not do a Mashup? (3, Informative)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983101)

Why bother reinventing the wheel? Google has already done the hard work for you.

Just record your GPS co-ordinates as you travel and then you can do a Google Maps mashup afterwards and people can track your movements through Streetview.

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (2, Insightful)

Bught_42 (1012499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983269)

Because he's going "a few places outside the US", and unless he's going to the France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, or the UK that leaves him out of luck.
Street View still has fairly limited coverage compared to the world's streets.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Street_View [wikipedia.org]

Plan with Google (4, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983899)

So all he has to do is choose his routes to go places where StreetView has gone, and post his GPS track. Problem solved.

Re:Plan with Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27992361)

These are the voyages of Ismenio. His mission: to explore strange new countries; to seek out new cultures and civilizations; to boldly go where StreetsView has gone before.

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (2, Informative)

HJED (1304957) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984271)

you missed Australia which also has reasonable converge

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (1)

Bught_42 (1012499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985529)

Yes, I did fail to read the wiki all the way. Thanks for pointing that out.

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (1)

somewhere in AU (628338) | more than 5 years ago | (#27989651)

you missed Australia which also has reasonable converge

Well sort of.. Google has some *really* bizarre ommissions and inexplicable truncations even for a major street of a major CBD such as Melbourne.. go take a look!

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (2, Funny)

beav007 (746004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27990113)

That's because, even at Google, they can't work out WTF a hook turn [wikipedia.org] is.

Re:Why not do a Mashup? (0, Troll)

CommanderIsm (978259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28003977)

fukc google the nozy bastards photograph my personal stuff and spread it across the web they are a disease down with the evil all pervading data sniffing giant that should be dead next time i see a google employee watch out

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983135)

try an elphel.

$TITLE (-1, Offtopic)

this great guy (922511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983209)

$WITTY_COMMENT_THAT_WILL_BE_MODDED_PLUS5FUNNY_EVEN_ THOUGH_THE_CONTENT_OF_THIS_VARIABLE_IS_UNKNOWN_TO_THE_READER

(Note to lameness filter: I hate you. Why do you force me to ruin my posts ?)

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (1)

Jyms (598745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985431)

I had a student work on this last year. He mounted some CCTV cameras on the roof of his car and stitched the resulting videos together. Not sure if you want to drive around with a PC on your back seat. He tried all sorts of Web and IP cameras, but found that the CCTV cameras worked best because the capture card took the load of the CPU and it was easier to synchronize frames. Unfortunately he could not find a capture card for a laptop, so he had to uses a PC.
The process worked like this:
Extract frames
Correct lens distortions using barrel transformation.
Correct perspective.
Match and stitch frames. He could have used something like Hugin, but chose to write his own stitching software for the sake of the exercise. I seem to recall him using Champher matching.
Create video from frames.
More information about his project can be found at: http://www.cs.uwc.ac.za/~iachmed/index.html [uwc.ac.za] .

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (2, Interesting)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986395)

We did this in the early ninties. We used a 3CCD pro camcorder and videotaped streets of Toronto, mostly Yorkdale, Kensington, Bloor village and the Danforth. We just walked along, stopped in front of every address and took some stable footage. Then we went home and frame grabbed the best scene for every address.

I swear it takes more time to talk about it than to actually do it.

These days my feeling is anything but the cheapest cel phone wouold work and can't say I really understand the question.

Have you tried anything yet on your street?

Re:I worked on this for a while.... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986849)

OTOH, if you get a travelcam going, I'd love to contribute; I haven't given up hope yet.

What I'm really interested in this technology for is creating racing courses for simulators. I would really love to scan Highway 17, Highway 9, and some other similar roads... There's also a lot of BLM land around here with roads that would make amazing rally courses. This is a market Google might consider getting into. Presumably once they image the whole world they'll do it again at higher resolution :D

a small collection of tools (4, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982827)

A fisheye lens. if not you can get by with a little patience.

stitching software
virtual tour software
i dont use fisheye, opting for more images for higher resolution pictures. But for the later two, i use and highly recomend autopano pro (http://www.autopano.net/en/) and its virtual tour software that is integrated with the giga version. The stitch imports images and combines them together into one image. The tour provides a simple way to combine the images into a set of 360x180 views, with hot-points between them to navigate, all automaitcally put together into a swf for easy embedding. if you dont mind a few watermarks, you can use the trial version with very few restrictions.

for an example of a high reosution virtual tour created by the stitching software, tyhough without the tour software, i have created a tour of cambridge at http://cambridge.lifeinmegapixels.com/ [lifeinmegapixels.com] . for other examples and examples of the touring software, check the gallery subforum in the autopano pro forums.

Re:a small collection of tools (3, Informative)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982849)

oh and regarding using a HD camera, for the sort of resolution you normally get (e.g c.f streetview) it is perfectly feesible to extract frames from a video, and stitch those together, i have experimented with it a little but its not something i use. It would be a good alternative to using a fisheye lens if you dont have patience to replace it with. Finally, you will probably want to look up about the no paralax point (NPP)

A fisheye lens is recommended: Sigma or Nikkor (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983447)

You'll definitely need a panoramic head, using your tripod head will cause parallax problems: cheap - the Panosaurus, expensive: 360Precision.

The most common lenses for panoramic photography are the Sigma 8mm and the Nikkor 10.5mm, but there's also a Sigma 10mm fisheye.

You can also use your rectilinear kit lens. Check out the VRwave Panoramic Lens Database [vrwave.com] to find out how many pictures you need for a full 360x180 pano.

Use PTGui or (the free) Hugin to stitch the pics, with manual controls, or Autopano, for (mostly) automatic stitching.

Re:A fisheye lens is recommended: Sigma or Nikkor (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983573)

The quick option would be a "one shot lens" (which is actually a mirror). The quality isn't great, but is the fastest way to shoot a pano.

Re:a small collection of tools (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983501)

Nikon Coolpix has a http://www.nikonweb.com/fisheye/ [slashdot.org]

You would have to take three or four pictures at different directions to get a complete coverage (sky view + three compass directions = tetrahedral arrangement).

Re:a small collection of tools (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983919)

Nikon Coolpix has a fisheye lens option [nikonweb.com] for less than $100.

You would have to take three or four pictures at different directions to get a complete coverage (sky view + three compass directions = tetrahedral arrangement).

Wow an opportunity for a completely legitimate non-sarcastic FTFY. Glee.

Re:a small collection of tools (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984103)

There is a patent on the use of just two fisheye pictures taken back to back - it belongs to a property agency of all companies; apparently they patented the process of taking two pictures to create a virtual tour of a home. The fisheye lens came with a small utility to create a panoramic view from two such fisheye lens pictures along with the necessary license. However, at the fringes of each picture the blue light tends to bleed more than the red or green, so one or two extra pictures help to average that out.

Re:a small collection of tools (2, Interesting)

end3rtm (894520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984389)

Use a DSLR camera with a high resolution. Attach a VR Lens module so that you can go to any one location and take ONE picture for the full 360 degree coverage: Kaidan 360 One VR (http://www.steves-digicams.com/2005_reviews/360one_mod3.html), BugEyeDigital One Shot, etc. There are various kinds. Use a good steady tripod that'll let you tilt the camera all the way. Best if it has a built in leveler. I'm not sure about how to interconnect them though. I would just get a copy of a overhead map (Google, Yahoo, scan a real map)...link the GPS coordinates in that map to the individual VR views.

Microsoft Photosynth (3, Informative)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982877)

Take a look at Microsoft Photosynth [livelabs.com] . I don't know if it would be able to handle long, multiple streets, but if you take enough overlapping photos, it might work well for you.

Re:Microsoft Photosynth (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27984329)

How fucking dare you recomend a Microsoft project. You should be shot. SHOT. ARE YOU A TERRORIST???

Re:Microsoft Photosynth (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984711)

I've tried photosynth for several different things, just to play with it. Of course, I have to use it from a Windows machine, so my Linux machine is out.

    I recently took a panorama of photos of a friends pool area, where she has flowers around the whole thing (like a freakin' garden, just just the occasional flower). Here's the photosynth [photosynth.net] .

    I tried to follow their guidelines for "best practices". Every frame overlapped. From all four corners, I shot 180 degrees. I overlapped layers, so I could get views from down into the pool, to up into the sky.

    The result? Some overlapping frames that they were able to stitch together. There were a whole lot of orphaned pictures too.

    I tried to show it to someone, and the cells were pathetically slow to turn into full resolution. It wasn't a connection or a computer problem on their end. Eventually, they would, but it was far from a good panorama.

    I wanted to do a photosynth of the SR71 at the Smithsonian's new museum at Dulles. That turned out poorly, even with great overlapping photos. Here's the photosynth [photosynth.net] .

    I did have one turn out well. Here's the photosynth [photosynth.net] . I shot it from a hotel in Los Angeles, where I had a corner suite in a downtown hotel on a fairly high floor. A coworker had another corner room on the same floor, so I had maybe a 280 degree view. From the window, I shot a skyline layer, a mid-layer, and a street layer. I also followed taller buildings up. I then shot another set of pictures standing back in the room. It was kind of neat that you could pan through, and watch the walls and floors disappear sometimes.

    Microsoft Photosynth is far from prime time. Don't get your hopes up. In their original advertising, it was said to merge your photos with other people's photos, to get a better view of a setting. That simply doesn't happen. It fails to recognize a lot of matching photos in the same set. They may get it better, or they may drop it. Either way, I wouldn't hope for it to do something nice, like turn a set of photos from a street into a navigable streetview like Google Maps Streetview.

Re:Microsoft Photosynth (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984887)

    Sorry about replying to myself. For the GPS transmission, I had found a tornado hunter group who had a nice little piece of software that they used to track themselves. It uploaded a very small flat file to an FTP server (or HTTP post, if I remember right), containing my current GPS information. I don't remember the name of the software off hand, and I wiped my laptop a while back, so I simply don't have it. You may be able to find it if you google for that information. I don't know that it's still available. Alternatively, write your own. Parsing the GPS data isn't that hard. Remember, you need several of the NEMA sentences to put together all the information on your location.

    If you're using Windows, finding the serial port (or virtual serial device, depending on your GPS device) can be tricky. Their software handled that for me, so it was a saved step for me. Using a VZW card on a Linux PC was hackish at best at the time, so I stayed booted into XP. I don't use the card any more, so I can't give any advice on the current state of that.

   

Re:Microsoft Photosynth (1)

pgn674 (995941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984981)

Yeah, I've noticed that Photosynth view is sometimes very reluctant or sluggish to give you a higher resolution. In a single synth, there will usually be some photos that get highest resolution right away, and others that will never ever go higher than a blurry blurb.

One time, on a certain photo, I noticed that if I resized the browser window to be a little smaller than full screen, the photo became instantly clear. But, as soon as I moved the window size bigger than some threshold, it went blurry again. The actual size of the photo changed with the browser resize, so maybe I was hitting a zoom level where it wanted to download a higher clarity version of the photo. But, why go back to clarity 0 while waiting for clarity 2 to download, when you have clarity 1 sitting there?

They have made the point cloud and quad (faded photos near the one you are currently focused on) better and faster recently. There was one synth [photosynth.net] that had well placed highlights, such that as the viewer went from one to another, the camera went through and displayed a bunch of photos on the way, so you could really get a feel of the layout and feel like you're walking through the place.

Re:Microsoft Photosynth (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986029)

Actually Photosynth started off as a PhD project called Photo Tourism [washington.edu] . You can download the source code of Bundler [washington.edu] (GPL license) as well. The idea of using geo-tagged photos to create a 3D view of the world is really cool. However there are various challenges: occlusion, moving objects (people, foliage, ...), changing illumination, different cameras, cameras with distortion. The software needs to be robust and discard those "outliers".

SceneLib [ic.ac.uk] is a software for simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) which essentially is a similar problem. However here the assumption is that the camera is always the same.

Creating a panorama with and [sourceforge.net] Enblend [sourceforge.net] on the other hand only allows pictures taken from a single view point.

Sounds like a big project (3, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982885)

I doubt it would be worth the effort to create a google street-view clone for your own personal use, you'd either have to carry around a set of cameras the whole time or stay in your car (with the camera(s) mounted on the car).

Personally I've built a small website that shows images I've uploaded from my iPhone using Google Maps, a pretty simple solution that doesn't require a lot of expensive equipment nor a very advanced software setup (on the server it's just apache+mod_python+mysql and a couple of small python scripts for creating thumbnails of the uploaded images.

/Mikael

Re:Sounds like a big project (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984851)

    I did a drive from Florida to Los Angeles (the length of I-10, plus a little), with a webcam running the whole time. When I had cell service, it was uploading the frames as fast as it could to my web server for friends and family to see. I stored all the frames locally too. At the time, I used a Nextel Im1100 wireless card, that was pathetic at best. It was the best thing I could get at the time, but it was terrible.

    I then took the whole drive, and consolidated it into a 5 minute video, compressing 2500 miles driven in 2.5 days. Not bad reducing it down to 8.3% of the original drive time. My coworkers enjoyed it, watching the sun rise and set, and what appeared to be me driving at hypersonic speeds across the country. :)

    I don't know where I put that video. It was long since lost, but I found some frames that may be from that trip, so I may try to recreate it.

    My biggest problems were that the webcam wasn't great in bright light conditions. Near the beginning of the drive (like in the first 50 miles), I stopped at a gas station and bought a pair of cheap sunglasses, and ripped a lens out. I taped that to the front of the webcam, and it made the image look good during the day. When it started getting dark, I had to remove it. The night time driving wasn't much to see. Reflectors flashing by, and the occasional taillights. It didn't tolerate darkness much either, and I when I stopped, I couldn't adjust it out to do any better than darkness, reflectors, and taillights.

    I later bought a better webcam, which handled bright lights and darkness much better. You could make out the road and skyline features at night, and during the day it handled flawlessly. It also had a nice wide view, so they could see almost what I saw. I used a lower quality camera to show my rear view, but it died in the first 6 hours of the drive, so I disabled it. I broadcast the opposite drive (Los Angeles to Florida) over a Verizon Wireless Kyocera (KPC650?) with an external antenna. The wireless speed was much better, and I didn't lose service even in the middle of the desert. Frames went down from one to two per second to about 1 every 2 minutes. That was expected. I was also transmitting GPS information back to my web server (Heading, speed, altitude, coordinates), which I had scripted on the server side to integrate with Google Maps. That made the whole thing more interesting. I didn't store the frames locally, though, and because the new laptop had such a high current draw, it toasted one of the inverters I brought along, simply wouldn't work with another one, and blew the fuse in the third inverter when I reached the Texas/Louisiana border fairly late at night. My audience was blind after that. At that point, I had been driving too long to want to stop and find a fuse, so I kept moving. I didn't need the laptop, so I didn't care. I had memorized the route (and had it written on paper), so I just continued on very much alone. No audience. No one to know if I crashed or drove off the road. The rest of the drive took one night, so I was to my destination by about noon that day.

    My advice? Record the drive with a webcam, and they'll get a forward facing view of what you saw. Get a camera with a 120 degree view, and they'll have a nice view. Live with the low frame rate or low resolution, or suffer the consequences of a full drive on your laptop fairly quickly.

    Really, only a few people had a passing interest in it. After I was to my destination for a couple weeks, no one cared. They don't really care about your drive. A few people who had never driven across the US were interested to see what it looked like, but that was about it.

    My biggest problem with both setups was mounting the camera. On the dash, you see the hood and windshield wipers (in my car), so the view is mostly skyline. Unless you put double sided tape on your dash, it will slide. Mounting it high was the better choice, but that became complicated. I ended up hanging it by the wire wrapped around my rear view mirror, hanging about 3 inches low, which gave a good view. On the first trip, I moved the camera from the dash to my sun visor, but that left me with an unusable sun visor. I then moved it to the passenger sun visor, but that didn't give a great view either. The rear view camera, while it worked, did ok suction cupped to the rear window (I have a TransAm with a long fairly flat rear window, but the suction cup didn't stay very well. I reset it twice in the 6 hours that it survived.

    I never tried to associate my coordinates with the recorded frame, although it could be possible with a bit of programming.

    Good luck.

Re:Sounds like a big project (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28000515)

I then took the whole drive, and consolidated it into a 5 minute video, compressing 2500 miles driven in 2.5 days. Not bad reducing it down to 8.3% of the original drive time.

You drove 2500 miles in 60 minutes!? And I thought I drove fast.

Obvious (5, Funny)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982887)

I know I'll be modded down for this, but it seems that the best, most efficient, and cheapest answer to this problem is as follows:

If you feel so strongly abotu sharing your vacation with people you know, then take some of them with you.

And then, gasp, instead of spending huge piles of money so that you can occupy your vacation fucking with technology that nobody wants to use anyway (Hey, Martha! Look! George sent more pictures of the LOVELY GREAT FUCKING TIME HE'S HAVING over there! Start the fire!), you'll be able to take a few folks who might actually be interested in this stuff along with you.

Just a thought.

(And: To answer the original question of, "Can I do this?" No. No, you can't. Don't bother. Give up.)

Re:Obvious (1)

DonniKatz (623845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982951)

Wow, you're a dick. I would just stand in one spot and take a picture from every angle around me and use a photo stitcher program. I'm sure not EVERY PART of EVERY PLACE you will visit be cool, so pick a few special spots.

Re:Obvious (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984083)

The sticher program is still a pain in the ass to use, and does take up a lot of time to assemble. he's right - it's not the best use of vacation time.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27982969)

I think you should factor how much it would cost to take said people on the trip, compare that against the cost of getting some badass camera equpiment, and then realize that the parent poster is a moron.

Why is this informative ?

Re:Obvious (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983015)

Dear AC,

It takes more than some "badass camera equipment" to get a Streetview-like interface to your vacation photos. Someone has to write the software, which is going to be either extremely non-trivial and time-consuming, or monumentally expensive.

Vacations, by and large, are cheap in comparison.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983321)

you can modify this : http://yhs.sourceforge.net/yvmap.html [sourceforge.net]

Re:Obvious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983253)

Moreover, what exactly is the OP looking to accomplish that can't be accomplished by sending a link to google showing where he's been.
It's not like the streets are going to look different just because you walked on them.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983313)

your answer made sense till you started quoting roger waters...

Re:Obvious (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983337)

And: To answer the original question of, "Can I do this?" No. No, you can't. Don't bother. Give up.

Hand over the geek card, the correct answer as always is, "yes but its just fucking hard, you could"
1)list of options that don't entirely fit the needs, but would provide a close match
or
2)instructions on how to which opensource software to patch together to provide exactly what is needed (presumably patching is done in a series of bash/perl/python scripts)

Just because your too lazy to mess around with technology doesn't mean everybody on slashdot is, he was hoping for some pointers/software to use and AFAICT that's what hes got!

Re:Obvious (0)

adolf (21054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984939)

I gave him pointers. And I told him his idea was bogus, which it is. (This, of course, is based on the assumption that the man would like to actually, yaknow, vacation while on vacation, instead of fuck with prototype tech the whole time.)

You can have my geek card when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Yep (1)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985457)

This is 100% the best answer by far.

Why would you be modded down kid (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987527)

Here they seem to like the stupid bullshit answers.

Re:Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27992375)

That's my take on vacation pic too. My last vacation I didn't bring a camera, and when ppl ask about it, I tell em if they really wanna see it... they should go there themselves as pictures would do no justice to the experience.

Maybe Microsoft has an answer? (4, Informative)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982891)

WAIT! Don't mod me down yet.

There's this free software called Photosynth that gives a very similar experience. It stitches together large numbers of photographs to create a scene through which a user can move.

They can all be interconnected, or it could be just, "my hotel room" and "famous landmark A" and "famous landmark B." If you take enough pictures on the way to each location, it should be able to figure that out.

Other than that, software projects like photosynth and google street view are massive undertakings and require a great deal of understanding of mathematics, geometry, pattern matching and some terrific coding skills. You likely will not find many alternatives, and something "homebrew" probably won't compete unless you're going to start coding now.

Re:Maybe Microsoft has an answer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27988301)

Microsoft Mapsmith.

Just sing into the microphone and mapsmith makes the tour.

Quicktime VR? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982997)

Not exactly cheap, but it might work.

Re:Quicktime VR? (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983871)

Not exactly cheap, but it might work.

Not exactly expensive either. Some digital cameras come with bundled software (e.g. Canon PhotoStitch) that can spit out QTVR files, and after some digging in Google and on Apple's site to see what has replaced the old "QuickTime VR Authoring Studio" from Apple, I managed to find Apple's QTVR tools page [apple.com] , with a link to ClickHere Design's Cubic Connector [clickheredesign.com.au] for a whopping $79.

If I get sufficiently bored at any point in the near future, I think I'll grab that program and start making virtual tours of all kinds of things. :)

Re:Quicktime VR? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986779)

Interesting. Last time I checked, QTVR required the use of a rather expensive panoramic head to work well. It seems that this is no longer the case, which makes it a pretty viable option, I think.

Thanks for doing the research I should have done before I posted.

Re:Quicktime VR? (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27989405)

Well, an expensive panoramic head never HURTS, that's for sure. And even with one, you're susceptible to things moving across the field of view.

But if somebody wants to go low-budget and just make something for their friends or family or whatever, it looks like they can.

Autodesk Design Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983003)

You might want to considering incorporating ADR, it's got some funky GPS functionality - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k_CFNr5Fgg [youtube.com]

Microsoft Photosynth (3, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983013)

Purchase a GPS logger, carry it with you everywhere while you take pictures. Or even better, buy/rent a camera with GPS built in.

Next, upload your photos into Microsoft Photosynth. http://photosynth.net/ [photosynth.net]

I've seen demos where it can synthesize multiple photos based on GPS data, and present them in a mapping mode where you can 'walk down the street' using your photos, and other people's photos from the area. Not sure what capabilities have been released in this regard, yet, to the general public.

Slashdot Borked? (0, Offtopic)

Glug (153153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983031)

Something seems to have changed with slashdot recently. It started connecting back to me as if I were a web server to get a file called "ok.txt", so I started throwing some random stuff in that file to send back. Then I noticed a connection being made from my browser to c.fsdn.com to download 400K of something or other. This makes slashdot takes so long to come up that it's pretty much unusable. Is this happening to anyone else?

Re:Slashdot Borked? (1)

xwizbt (513040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983041)

In all honesty, no. Something's borked, and it's either you or your computer. Are you running Windoze?

Re:Slashdot Borked? (1)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983083)

Swine influenza?

Re:Slashdot Borked? (1)

Glug (153153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984121)

I think I figured some stuff out - slashdot is indeed performing an HTTP connection back and trying to retrieve "ok.txt", but it's infrequent and has been going on for some time. The connections are all from slashdot.org 216.34.181.45 and started about 10 months ago. If I check slashdot itself for the file (http://slashdot.org/ok.txt) it exists, so a possibility is that slashdot is testing to see if my connection is coming from an anonymous web proxy, though I don't know why they'd care. The file returns "ok", so I'll try putting that in and see what happens. I'm surprised that nobody else is noticing this. I'm certain it's not just me.

The slowdown seems to be the result of a really massive pile of CSS/javascript stuff coinciding with a spam attack and my wimpy DSL line. I don't know if the CSS craziness is new, but I'm blocking it all, and slashdot works fine and is much cleaner and faster for me now.

I know this is completely offtopic. Apologies. Slashdot doesn't have a static user support thread that I'm aware of, or I'd have asked in it instead.

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983087)

All you need to do is raise about 100 billion USD and do a hostile takeover of Google. Then you decide where those fucking street-view cars go.

Photosynth (4, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983113)

You may want to take a look at Microsoft's Photosynth (usual Microsoft bashing, what about Linux and Mac, I don't want to install silverlight, etc. aside).

What you'll generally find though is that either:

a) You don't shoot enough coverage.
b) You shoot too damn much and it takes forever to upload.

Say you're used to DSLRs. You probably shoot about a 20-30 degree field of coverage at 10mp whenever something interesting comes up.

Your choice is either to shoot as wide as you can... In which case you won't have the detail you're used to when you zoom in on something interesting, leaving it an unidentifiable blur... Or you can take 36 overlapping shots at 10 degree intervals followed by a bunch of vertical passes - but then you're talking 50-100 x 10MP images to upload for every point you shoot from and it takes you half an hour to capture each of them.

Google goes with so low res it'd suck for trying to show people the details of a cool cathedral or whatever else. It's great for figuring out where you are but little more than that. You could shoot 8-10 very wide angle images (14mm lenses on a full frame sensor, etc.) which would get your numbers of files down in exchange for less detail. Still...

Street view takes a picture every 50 feet or so. Simple coverage of say a cathedral will still have you taking about 20 points inside and the same outside.

Even at 8-10 images per location, that's still a couple of hundred... and a few thousand if you want detailed ones. All at say 10MP... That's gigs upon gigs of data to upload, while away (or store on many memory cards) and hours spent doing it... For a single building you want people to be able to truly explore with you.

Or, of course, you just take a few wide shots from a few locations... Photosynth is great for that. But, afterwards, you realize you missed dozens of angles and people can't see that really cool X you remember.

Openstreetview (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983129)

Have a look at this project:
openstreetview.org.uk [openstreetview.org.uk]

The map data is from the Openstreetmap [openstreetmap.org] Project.
There's also a discussion going on about openstreetview in the talk mailing list of OSM. [openstreetmap.org]

Re:Openstreetview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27986233)

There was a similar kind of thing done with aerial photography along the Californian coast a few years ago. However they just flew along the coast with a camera pointed at the land, so no worries about stitching panoramic images. Have a look at http://www.californiacoastline.org/, they used a Nikkon digital camera controlled by a Mac laptop over firewire.

Use 'New' Technology (5, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983137)

There is this new fangled thing called a "video camera". It takes moving pictures. You can also record a "voice over" describing what you are seeing. I understand that there are even "video cameras" that shoot in "High Definition" and record to something called a "hard disk". Apparently you can even upload your moving pictures, or "videos", to some web site called "YouTube". Try it, you might like it.

Re:Use 'New' Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983679)

So to do something like this, I have to master several arcane technologies like:
"video camera", "voice over","high definition", "youtube".

I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Re:Use 'New' Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27984065)

That kind of technology is years away. Next you'll say we can transmit those "movies" and "text" across the world at little expense.

Re:Use 'New' Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27984371)

This man is a genius!

Re:Use 'New' Technology (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986533)

I had to scroll down a ways to find this. I'm not sure what is going on with this question. Is the person asking for this solution SO Google-centric that he wants to go from an ideal solution (video) to a less ideal solution (streetview)?

Granted you can't easily record GPS on the fly into video but you can, as you noted, SAY where you are in the video. And the video itself certainly could be tagged with the general GPS coordinates. If you think about streetview it is actually a low res compromise because streetvideo would require too much bandwidth. For a personal record of a trip, video is far superior.

Re:Use 'New' Technology (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27988877)

Why don't you stupid kids just shut up with your idiot comments.

Try a motorsports camera (1)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983229)

The most popular video cameras for motor sports seem to be the ContourHD [vholdr.com] ($300) and the GoPro [goprocamera.com] ($200) cameras. Both are small, have good FOV, and decent (or excellent for the contourHD) resolution.

Tech Specs [vholdr.com]

How about (2)

Todd Fisher (680265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983263)

Enjoying your visit and take pictures of interesting things along the way. Trust me, those will boring enough to everyone else who wasn't there with you.

Be careful (5, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983291)

You didn't say what countries you'll be visiting, but you should check with the locals before you do much photography. Even where not strictly illegal, you might find yourself answering some pointed questions if the cops see you taking panoramic views of anything even remotely "sensitive".

Re:Be careful (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983585)

Especially with the GPS data included. And without googles legal team standing by to bail them out.

Re:Be careful (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983907)

I forgot about the GPS.
Let's see, you, a non-citizen, are standing in the street in front of your friend's house on the Elbonian equivalent of Elm Street, with a high-tech camera and a GPS device. Meanwhile, that nondescript building a block away is the People's Ministry of Anthrax...

Re:Be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27987419)

Agreed, in the UK where photography in public is usually legal a man who did nothing more than take a photo was arrested [boingboing.net] under anti-terrorism laws. Even though they found nothing on his phone they held him for two days and seized his computer.

Some options (1)

chenjeru (916013) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983397)

You could look at some 360 panoramic lenses like the ones here:

http://www.0-360.com/ [0-360.com]
http://www.eggsolution.com/ [eggsolution.com]

Otherwise, you'll be taking lots of photos to have to stitch together.

this is certainly possible... and moderatly cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983551)

The 360 view is a little challenging.... and the direction... but if you want a "reasonable" look then it can be done fairly cost effectivly.... and to see the results you can have something like this GPS Bike ride http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/albumMap?uname=halljona&aid=5308120577198169521#map

1. Camera - Canon with the CHDK hacks loaded http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK then use the tile lapse feature to get the photos at a regular interval

2. GPS logger - I use the little igotu logger http://global.mobileaction.com/product/product_i-gotU_GT-100.jsp 30 hrs battery (slowest logging) and tghen use the @trip software to gelolcate the pics

3. strap it all down to something, turn it all on and off you... the only thing that is missing is the 360 but that starts getting real hard because then you need a compass to know which direction you were facing and which camera is point north.

I would suggest better to log the all the trip and gelocate the photos (like this kayack trip http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/albumMap?uname=halljona&aid=5318907883788401425#map) and then once you have them in Google earth turn on the other photos from flickr etc and then any land marks you miss you can use someone elses photo

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983575)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

Just What You're Looking For (0, Redundant)

coaxial (28297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983593)

It's called Google Street View.

1. Why are you reinventing the wheel?
2. What makes you think that anyone wants to look at this?
3. Why do you want to waste your time babysitting a bunch of technology on vacation?

Just get a GPS Logger with built in camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983617)

This company sells a GPS logger that you can export into Google Earth..

http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/h4100.html

They also have one with a built in camera that can do the same thing but takes full motion video
http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/voyager-car-camera-gps-logger.html

All you gotta do is upload the data and anyone can see and have a virtual fly/walk through of your entire trip

Ask the pros! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27983691)

360cities.net currently shows thousands of high-resolution panoramas from streets but also mountains, underwater, interiors, etc. etc. - these images were shot using dSLR / fisheye / panohead, and stitched mostly using ptgui, hugin, or autopano pro.

Here is their link to get started
http://www.360cities.net/panoramic-photo-tutorials/how-to-get-started-on-panoramic-photography

OpenViewProject (4, Informative)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984045)

OpenViewProject [openviewproject.org] basically gives you the DIY stuff. At OpenStreetMap we started the OpenStreetPhoto [openstreetphoto.org] project but that deviated a bit to the creation of area photography and the analysis of existing photos and tagging them with metadata.

Why? (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984433)

Lots of work, holidays are not supposed to be about work.

How about this idea instead - setup a blog, and each day post JUST ONE photo which tells a story about that one day. Annotate with where you are, who you are with, and why you thought this photo said it.

If any of my friends was doing that, you can bet I'd add it to my feed reader.

Holiday photos are about stories and experience, not places. Without you to tell the story, the photos no matter how beautiful, could be taken by anybody, it's meaningless.

Geotagging (1)

sofakingon (610999) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984465)

I have recently started doing something very similar with my DSLR and a GPS logger. Quick and dirty instructions:

1. Get a digital camera (A camcorder that will export .exif data with JPEG snapshots will work as well) and sync the time with International Atomic Time. If you're not using a camcorder, make sure you have PC sync software to be able to time the shots.

2. Get a fisheye lens or a 360 degree panoramic adapter.

3. Buy a GPS logger. Configure it to track during the same time that you are capturing photo/video.

4. Mount the camera to your vehicle, set up the capture criteria on the capture device (camcorder or digital camera and laptop) and gps logger and drive around to capture your image and geo location data.

5. Download the data and embed the geo-location into your images. I use GPSbabel [gpsbabel.org] (GPL Freeware) to convert the data to GPS XML (.gpx) format. I then use GeoSetter [geosetter.de] (Author's license freeware) to embed the EXIF data and export to Google Earth.

6. You can either export the tracks to Google Earth .kml files, upload to locr.com, or upload the photos to flickr.com and flickr will map them automatically (I use the 3rd option.)

Note: You'll have to use some kind of panoramic converter to be able to view the images in a non-distorted manner. A site dedicated to doing this will all-GPL software is located at http://www.all-in-one.ee/~dersch/ [all-in-one.ee]

Point Grey Research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27984859)

Depending on your needs, there's the company that made the first spherical vision camera, Point Grey Research [ptgrey.com] [ptgrey.com]. They had one of their cameras go up on a shuttle mission. Dunno how much they run, but their current "cheap" camera weighs a kilo, and runs at 30fps at 1024x768 x 6 cameras.

Free hosted virtual tours (1)

l-ascorbic (200822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984969)

Forgive the self-promotion, but CleVR [clevr.com] sounds like the sort of thing that would help. It has a free photo stitcher and easy hosting of the virtual tour. It supports hotspots, so you can click to move between locations.

SARCASM WARNING!!!!!! (0, Offtopic)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985055)

I understand women's shelters are a good place to focus on. Google apparently labours under the misapprehension that any half-decent stalker wouldn't be able to find out everything they want to know from a car, a fleeting glimpse of a sweater (Alt-Prt Scr), or a characteristic body-type/tattoo, so you might just as well make a real dog's breakfast of it and set up a camera outside a place like that and supply the GPS coordinates.

Sorry...you didn't deserve that, but I the point needed to be made. I know a girl who was stalked by somebody who knew their way around the web, and managed to find her from a Facebook picture that showed somebody's back yard.

What you want to do is fine, just use a little common sense. If I were thinking about a project like that, I'd be inclined to set up a camera on a deer trail. Just about every kind of wildlife that likes an easy path through the bush uses them.

As someone who's done this before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27985081)

The project was killed long ago, but we were highly successful doing this with the following setup:

A good quality HD camcorder, with firewire, strapped to the roof of the car
A laptop recording everything over firewire, and recording the raw data to batches of USB hard drives, with timestamps
A basic GPS receiver, also recording timestamped coordinates to the hard drives
A little bit of Perl to split the video streams into lots of JPEGs, and to record their GPS coordinates and the direction they were taken into EXIF and a database
A commercial use license for a popular set of map data, so we could map those coordinates to streets with all-local queries

We were surprised, but motion blur is not a problem at all even at high resolutions and moderate travel speeds, as long as you're shooting on a bright, clear day. 30 fps and a standard lens is enough to get continuous views unless you are going fast at the same time as the scenery is near you... Which doesn't happen very often.

I'm not sure how to get the map data on a hobby budget, but you could likely just query google maps for it as long as you keep the volume relatively low.

Tip: Camouflage the camera, unless you don't mind lots of people gesturing at it in your pictures. :)

Free solutions (2, Interesting)

dexotaku (1136235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985117)

Take:

1. Pretty much any digital camera
2. Hugin [http://hugin.sourceforge.net/]

That's pretty much all you need. If you want better precision, a spherical tripod head helps a great deal. The panosaurus is the least expensive you will likely find.

Oh, plus
3. Lots of patience.


Have fun!

QuicktimVR is the way to go. (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985755)

Remember Myst? Well, you can make something like that right now.
What you need is:
- A lens or mirror that can make at least 180 images.
- A panorama creation program.
- A simple video camera.
- A Quicktime VR creation tool.
- A Java applet that can display Quicktime VR, including clickable zones.

Basically you make enough (overlapping) images of each place, to create a panorama. Then you make short (accelerated) movies of the walk between those places.
Now you create the panoramas, and with that tool, create clickable zones. In a house, you would make the doors, and perhaps the windows clickable. You know what I mean.
Then you can simply link the clickables to the different movies, contained in Flash files. And you make the end of the Flash files automatically load the URL of the resulting panorama.
If you really want to become fancy, you record loops of background audio, so people can heart them, and feel immersed.

Do not forget to describe the feeling of the senses that you can't show that well. Describe how it smells, how it feels on your skin. How hot/cold/windy it is, etc.
People are really good at building their own super-realistic fantasy out of this. I guarantee you, they will be impressed!

Videowarp---Mac Required (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986003)

http://www.eyesee360.com/videowarp/ [eyesee360.com]

Content production requires a GOOD mac..
can be hand held or vehicle mounted....

actually not as expensive as the multicam rigs of immersive media

Gigapan (1)

GregNorc (801858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986143)

A summer camp I worked at was using software called gigapan. Basically a tripod with a servo on it and some custom software to take a shit load of ~4MP pictures and stitch them together to create an extremely high resolution panorama.

The CMU project page [cmu.edu] has more details, and the commercial arm of the project is here [gigapansystems.com] .

Re:Gigapan or (1)

bruceslog (1368385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27994777)

You might want to look at Panaramio as well..

http://www.panoramio.com/ [panoramio.com]

Or these alternatives

http://www.globalmotion.com/ [globalmotion.com] - ( GlobalMotion Media, Inc. develops applications that bring together the best of online, mobile and location-aware technologies. The company operates EveryTrail the leading online community for GPS trip sharing, and licenses its technology platform to corporate customers. GlobalMotion is located in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley ).

http://www.wolpy.com/ [wolpy.com] - ( Track yours and your friends' travels ).

http://www.mapyro.com/ [mapyro.com] - ( Put your Trips, Treks and Tours on the Map ).

These are just afew websites that'll let you post your trvels, some with geo tags.
If you must create panoramic shots, you can stitch your photos together with the information / software from the above mentioned posts.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27988667)

http://www.gpsed.com
as long as your phone has gps, it'll synch with your camera's images. free and easy to use.

if you have gps on your phone (1)

feb29 (1556591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27989319)

Use http://gpsed.com/ [gpsed.com] - It's free and easy to use. It will synch your camera's pics to your gps track of your travels.

do u know that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27990609)

we dun need such high quality?
we r not needing remote surveillance
hahahaha..........stupid richard

I got an awesome idea (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 5 years ago | (#27992463)

Why don't you talk to the KDE Marble team?
http://edu.kde.org/marble/ [kde.org]
This way the entire world could benefit from this as Marble is cross-platform.

Once you got the software in place, you could then also talk to the OpenStreetMap project.
http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

Together with the two linked projects you could figure out a cheap setup that everyone could follow, so we can see more of this stuff happen and you could share your streetview with the rest of the world! :D

The real story behind street view WITH PICTURES (1)

googlebackend (1557359) | more than 5 years ago | (#28003559)

Google totally dumped the Immersive Media footage and the company itself from Street View when the camera quality and function would not perform as advertized. Immersive Media then used the Google name to run up their own stock price and cash in for the Immersive executives. Google refused to even speak to the Immersive Media CEO after repeated lies and the stock games came to light in June 2007. Between that and Canadian Privacy problems this company is now trying to dig for clean coal or something? and their stock is in the toilet. You can download all the docs yourself online: http://tinyurl.com/googlestreetdocs [tinyurl.com]

Re:The real story behind street view WITH PICTURES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28005935)

Sounds like you know the situation. Documents look legit. Couldn't quite figure out who screwed who first, but the big "G" really dissed this Immersive Company. I remember pictures all over the place of a Google Chevy Cobalt fleet outfitted pano-cameras right within the dates the documents show. So if that was Googles own fleet rolling, were the other company's shareholders duped into thinking they had a deal? Wonder who cashed in and if "G" might be p.o.'d about this disclosure. Sorry about the anonymity but I need my job. Comprende?
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