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Creating Virtual City Tours Through 'Photo Tourism'

By combing through images on Flickr, a team of researchers has created a 3-D model of the city of Rome constructed from 150,000 tourist snapshots.
September 19, 2009, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"A team from the University of Washington (UW) has developed a new computer algorithm that uses hundreds of thousands of tourist photos to automatically reconstruct an entire city in about a day. It's thought that one use for the technology could be to provide visitors with an on-line virtual-reality 3-D tour of cities they visit.

UW has been studying ways of utilizing the increasingly large digital photo collections available on photo-sharing websites like Flickr. The digital Rome was built from 150,000 tourist photos tagged on that site with the word ‘Rome' or ‘Roma' (there are around 2 million ‘Rome/Roma' images on the site)."

Within just 21 hours, the algorithm was able to compile the images to create a 3-D photoreal model of the city. The researchers say they'll be able to model any city with large amounts of photos and essentially create virtual tours.

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Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 in Gizmag
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