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'global Camera' Links Photos Taken By Thousands

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Noah Snavely

Cornell University professor Noah Snavely

Cornell University professor Noah Snavely is leading an effort to develop a "global camera," software that mines pictures from Flickr and combines them to create three-dimensional models of landmarks from around the world.

The goal is to organize the millions of unrelated pictures taken by thousands of individuals into a visual record of the world. The software extracts data from the images and uses computer-vision algorithms and spatial information to put them together.

The researchers are building a database of thousands of landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Trafalgar Square. Snavely says the program also be used for scientific purposes, such as monitoring crop growth in developing countries. In addition, the researchers have developed PhotoCity, a game in which users raise their score by uploading new pictures of certain landmarks. "With a game like that you can guide the global camera," Snavely says. For his work, Snavely has received a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, which includes a cash prize of $200,000 given out over two years.

From IDG News Service
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