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A 'flickr-Ing' View of the World, in 4-D


A view of he 5pointz graffiti display area in Queens, as seen by the Scene Chronology system.

Cornell University researchers developed models of New York City's Times Square, the Akihabara shopping district in Tokyo, and 5Pointz, a graffiti display area in Queens, NY, that allow an observer to navigate around inside a virtual 3-D space while using

Credit: Cornell Chronicle

Cornell University researchers have developed Scene Chronology, a system that enables an observer to navigate a virtual three-dimensional space while using a slider control to move forward and backward in time.

The software works with flat surfaces in the image and treats them as patches that are stitched together to create the total scene. The display currently shows only the planes, because the algorithm does not recognize the flat gray and brown surfaces of walls and pavement, according to Cornell researcher Kevin Matzen.

The program compiles lists of positive and negative observations of a given feature and computes a time span over which the feature exists. In creating the entire scene at a particular moment, the program selects the features whose time span includes that moment. After a four-dimensional model is created, a new photo can be time-stamped by comparing it with the model.

The major hurdle the researchers face is getting accurate time stamping, as amateur photographers do not always correctly set the clocks in their cameras, and in early experiments, human observers found anomalies in some of the images.

From Cornell Chronicle
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