Swedish startup Mapillary, which specializes in street-level crowdsourced pictures, has been growing its inventory to more than 44.7 million crowdsourced pictures to date. End of October the company celebrated the first million of kms covered by its community of volunteers taking geo-tagged pictures. Furthermore, the company has created a point clouds that offers a 3D representation of the world. In a blog post Mapillary CEO and co-founder Jan Erik Solem explains what it is all about:
“For every single photo uploaded, we can automatically match features to the ones in photos from the same geographic vicinity so that we can compute how the images relate to each other and how to navigate from one to the other. This is how you navigate between photos in the Mapillary app and web browser. Taking it one step further, we can also recover a 3D model of every area photographed. What began as a means to improve positioning of each photo beyond the GPS accuracy given by smartphones turned out to be quite an magical viewing experience.
3D reconstruction holds a wealth of value to all of Mapillary. Sure it looks cool, but it also continuously improves the positioning of each photo beyond the capabilities of GPS and enables our customers to make more precise measurements using the photos.“ Companies such as HERE, Google or TomTom have developed large point clouds using mapping cars equipped with tens of thousand dollar high tech gears including LIDAR, 360 degree high resolution cameras, high precision odometers and differential GPS.
But Mapillary has started to demonstrate that you can possibly achieve a detailed 3D point cloud using geotagged pictures from basic, off-the-shelves smartphones. With the improvements seen in the recent years in smartphones cameras and sensors (precision of magnetometer and GPS are key for Mapillary) plus the add-on of the same sensors to action cameras, and ultimately the advent of 360 degrees consumer cameras (see the device from Giroptic here), Mapillary can expect a wealth of data coming into its cloud in the future.