Augmenting Aerial Earth Maps With Dynamic Information

The Georgia Instituite of Technology will be presenting at ISMAR09 on “Augmenting Aerial Maps with Dynamic Information from Videos.”  They have released a video and a website on their project.  Their stated their goals are:


We introduce methods for augmenting aerial visualizations of Earth (from tools such as Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth) with dynamic information obtained from videos. Our goal is to make Augmented Earth Maps that visualize the live broadcast of dynamic sceneries within a city. We propose different approaches to analyze videos of pedestrians and cars, under differing conditions and then augment Aerial Earth Maps (AEMs) with live and dynamic information. We also analyze natural phenomenon (clouds) and project information from these to the AEMs to add the visual reality.

I find this paper and the video absolutely fascinating and altogether troubling.  As we start bringing live camera views into the datasphere, we open ourselves up to many wonderful possibilities and also to new problems.  The technology, as presented in the paper, is a long way from a ubiquitous environment of cameras being translated to the datasphere (to be then analyzed), but it shows we are on that path. 

I may be overstating the dangers, because when it comes to collecting data, what can be measured can be improved and improving society is generally a good thing.  But as cameras can begin to identify individuals and that can be tracked to social media, we have to make decisions about the ownership of personal data.  I don’t mind if this data is used in an aggregate sense, but if my individual tastes and habits are tracked, then I think a line has been crossed. 

This is a topic that will need more discussion as the technology improves.

If you want to hear more on the project and you are attending this year’s ISMAR.  They will be presenting their paper on Tuesday afternoon between 1:00-1:50pm (subject to change).

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