BBC collaborating on new Photosynth collections

In conjunction with their new series “How We Built Britain”, the BBC is collaborating with Microsoft Live Labs Photosynth team on a new set of collections called Your Britain in Pictures (Jesse tells me that this was mentioned briefly during the virtual globes session at ISDE5 last Friday) that will feature some of Britain’s most well-known buildings. So far, Ely Cathedral, Burghley House, the new Scottish Parliament Building, Royal Crescent, Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and Trafalgar Square are available. I’ve been a fan of Photosynth ever since I first blogged it last year, and this is one of the main reasons why, since part of my research interests are focused on virtual reconstructions of historical landscapes.

WooHoo…time to play with code

Summer is here, grades are turned in, time to play with the toys. As some of you know we have been waiting anxiously for ArcGIS Engine 9.2 to upgrade some projects for the day jobs and try out some of the new bells and whistles. Since they pushed Engine into a new EDN package for university site licenses (which got held up various reasons) we have been chomping at the bit until today, when it finally arrived. We will be playing with it for a few weeks and then we will be talking a bit about it on a future episode (the only thing Sue has been looking forward to more is the arrival of her OQO model 2, which if it isn’t here soon she may do something drastic).

Our viz lab also just got in a few copies of CarbonTools Pro after Sue pointed them towards it and if we can pry a copy away to play with it, we will share some thoughts on it as well. Keep tuned for further developments.

Fotowoosh – more ways to go from 2D photos to 3D models

A week ago Friday, I saw that the fotowoosh site had gone live, and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and blog it until today. Licensing technology that was developed at Carnegie-Mellon, fotowoosh is similar to Photosynth, from Microsoft Research. fotowoosh will also allow you to generate 3D models from a 2D image, and the site currently features only demo videos from the alpha version, but there is a link to sign up for a beta invitation.

I am really looking forward to using these technologies (hopefully having 2 potentially competing products will spur both of them to try to get releases out sooner!), mainly because our research focuses on the representation of information in virtual environments, and some of the hardest work goes into developing the actual features of those environments, which often leaves little time and grant money left to do the really interesting work, which is to use the virtual landscapes as platforms for displaying and integrating other types of data. If we could have a tool, like fotowoosh or Photosynth, that could also us to generate the 3D models automatically from photos, then that would significantly reduce some of our development time.

And beyond that, the technology is just really cool! Now I guess we just wait and see who can get an actual beta up and running….

Getting Started with Google Maps and ASP .NET

For those of you who are developers and work with ASP .NET, you might be interested in a nice article from the WebSphere Journal site written by Jeevan Murkoth that goes over the basics of the Google Maps ASP .NET control and gives you a nice “Getting Started” walkthrough for a simple implementation. I keep telling myself I need to get more into the web stuff, so I will probably be trying this out in the near future.

SensorMap from Microsoft Research

I’ve been waiting awhile to check this out, but Microsoft Research has finally gotten their SensorMap project portal up and running as part of their larger SenseWeb project. Basically, SensorMap lets you bring in real-time data feeds, including video, and link them to the Windows Live Local map plaform. So far, they’ve got some traffic and weather sensors for the Seattle area, and video feeds from interstate highways across the US. I’ve already burned about 20 minutes just checking out traffic video feeds from I-295 in DC, so I can definitely see a lot of work piling up as I find a sudden need to check out the traffic situation in cities far, far away (the feeds don’t seem to be streaming, just snapshots of what’s happening when you click on the icon). They still have a few kinks to work out, but ways to serve up real-time spatial data will continue to develop rapidly in the near term.

One thing I should definitely point out is that you can also add your own sensor data to the SensorMap interface, according to the project website, but we haven’t given this a try yet. If anybody out there does, just let us know.

CarbonCloud from The Carbon Project

In the May issue of The Carbon Project’s newsletter, The Carbon Project announced that the latest release of CarbonTools, CarbonTools PROâ„¢, will launch at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston, MA on July 11-13, 2006. Demos will include a new p2p social networking application called CarbonCloud.

According to the CarbonCloud blog, which also recently launched, “CarbonCloud is the world’s first peer-to-peer (P2P) framework designed to allow people to share and find experiences about places.” The concept sounds cool, and I will be watching for more information about CarbonCloud. Maybe we’ll be able to get an interview with someone at The Carbon Project to tell us more about CarbonCloud and about CarbonTools PRO.

Google Earth and Virtual Worlds

Stephan over at OgleEarth links to a post by Avi Bar-Zeev, one of the Keyhole co-founders who also worked for Linden Labs (makers of Second Life), about Google Earth, what he feels it would take to achieve something like the metaverse, and why we just aren’t there yet. It’s a pretty long post, but you really should read it if you get a chance, as he discusses the need for a new language for object representation. It also dovetails nicely with this week’s episode of A VerySpatial Podcast, although we recorded the episode before we saw Avi’s post.

Telcontar offers a new AJAX-based mapping API

Telcontar, a well-known location-based services company, has announced the release of their new AJAX-based API, which is available for download from the Telcontar Developer Zone. , a free online service that allows developers to create applications that utilize Telcontar’s Drill Down Server and other features. Telcontar has emerged as a major player in LBS and has provided mapping and LBS services to a number of big clients, including Yahoo!, Google, and Motorola. If you are a developer working on browser-based mapping applications and utilize AJAX (or want to), you might want to check out this new API.

Via 3pointD, full article at

Google Summer of Code 2006

Google’s Summer of Code 2006 is program that gives “student developers stipends to create new open source programs or to help currently established projects. Google will be working with a variety of open source, free software, and technology-related groups to identify and fund several hundred projects over a three-month period.” It’s the 2nd year for the program, which last year had 400 students and 40 mentoring organizations in 49 countries.

You can find complete details at the Summer of Code website, but here’s the gist: organizations participate by offering to mentor students on particular projects. If Google accepts the organization’s ideas, then the organization and its project ideas are posted on the Summer of Code site. Students apply to Google with proposals to work with specific mentoring organizations. If the students are selected, they work with that organization for a 3-month period.

So, if you are part of an organization that could use some coding help on a cool project this summer or you are a graduate or undergraduate student that would like to get some real-world coding experience, definitely check out the Summer of Code project.

**Update: Mentoring organization applications are due by 8pm Pacific Time today, April 24th**