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Mobile Software Can Create 3-D Building Models

Tablet-based program scans, performs calculations automatically


Tablet-based program scans, performs calculations automatically.

Tablet creating 3-d building model

The Google Project Tango tablet used by the developers developing a 3-D building model. PHOTO CREDIT: ETH Zurich / Thomas Schöps

Software has been created that uses a tablet’s rear-facing camera to generate 3-D models of buildings as users walk around them. Researchers designed the software to work optically, using a fisheye lens for the camera and comparing separate images of the same facade features to create an accurate model. The project was developed in a collaboration between ETH Zurich and Google’s Project Tango.

While other modeling techniques use infrared light, the researchers note that the new method works better outdoors in sunlight as the camera-based system isn’t subject to interference from the IR waves present in sunlight. To reduce calculation errors, the software uses real-time feedback and a preview mode that allows users to see which facility areas need to be scanned more thoroughly and areas that are already adequately mapped.