Back in April 2006, Ogle Earth flagged GeoDec, a research project by grad students at the University of Southern California that allowed you to project live video streams onto a 3D landscape. The research had support from both Google and Microsoft, and came with an eye-popping video of what the future held.
The future is now. GeoDec’s demo site is gone, but out of its ashes comes Sentinel AVE, a company, and Augmented Virtual Earth (AVE), their product. USC’s researchers have turned their project into a business. And good for them.
As told by this impressive video demo, AVE is a fully fledged virtual globe with 3D DEMs, textured urban buildings, accurate sun positioning and support for KML as well as buildings taken from Google’s 3D Warehouse. But the single most impressive feature is the seemingly scalable ability to “fuse” any number of streaming videos to the landscape, so that surveillance cameras can collectively paint a a whole region in live 3D video.
That’s a first. Yes, Second Life has the ability to show a video in-world onto a screen, but an avatar can only see one at any one time. SkylineGlobe also lets you add 2D video clips in their globe, but you can’t distort the projection so that it fits around a 3D object, like AVE does. Sentinel AVE seems to have cracked the scalability issue, something which their video says involves a patent pending method. According to them, AVE runs on current laptops (though I’m guessing it’s Windows only).
If you visit Sentinel AVE’s about page there is no doubt that much of their original backing is (US) military in nature. But the video’s virtual visit of the Googleplex and the seamless integration with Google’s 3D Warehouse hints at some collaboration with Google’s geo team.
If you want to buy Augmented Virtual Earth, you need to send them an email. If you have to ask how much it costs, though, you probably can’t afford it, and that’s probably because you’re not the military, a city or big company wanting 3D video surveillance of a region. Still, today’s cool new technologies are tomorrow’s Google acquisitions, right?:-)
Five years from now, we may all be pointing our webcams out the window, contributing to a global live 3D video mosaic open to all. Then Google Earth (or a live video version of Microsoft’s Photosynth in Virtual Earth) would do to surveillance what it did to remote sensing intelligence gathering — bring it to the masses, replacing big brother with millions of little brothers. (Via Diserto)