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Vacation Photos

December 18, 2007

Computer scientists are using vacation photos found on the internet to create virtual 3-D models of historical cities and archaeological landmarks.


Recreating Rome with photos. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

There are literally billions of photographs online. A Google search for "Rome, Italy" brings up 363,000 alone. What if you could use these images to virtually reconstruct the whole city? That’s the goal of computer scientist Michael Goesele of the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany and his collaborators at the University of Washington and Microsoft.

MICHAEL GOESELE (Technical University of Darmstadt):
What we are trying to create is a digital, three-dimensional model of a scene and that could be anything, that could be a single building, or if you think ahead that could be a digital model of the city of Rome, Italy.

The software first sorts through thousands of downloaded photos of a landmark or building, then calculates its dimensions by comparing photos taken from different perspectives. Recreating Rome could take a up to a million photos. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.