With the muscle of about 500 computers and 150,000 still images, Steve Seitz, a professor at the University of Washington's Seattle campus, and his colleagues have reconstructed many of Rome's famous landmarks in just 21 hours. Find out more in this Science Nation video.
Credit: Science Nation, National Science Foundation
Researchers at the University of Arizona (UA), Tucson, have developed a holographic system that can transmit a series of 3-D images in near-real-time, a precursor to holographic videoconferencing. Find out more in this news release.
Credit: University of Arizona
StarCAVE is a five-sided immersive, interactive virtual reality (VR) room where scientific models and animations are projected in stereo on 360-degree screens surrounding the viewer, and onto the floor as well. StarCave was built at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Learn more in NSF's Multimedia Gallery.
Credit: Tom DeFanti, UCSD Calit2
New technologies are creating a relatively easy and inexpensive way for researchers to design high-quality visualizations from large data sets. Here is a visualization of the human brain using VisTrails, an NSF-supported suite of visualization tools. Read more in this NSF Discovery.
Credit: Juliana Freire, University of Utah
The Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) of NSF's Directorate for Engineering encourages the integration of engineering research and education to accelerate technological and educational innovation and improve the quality and diversity of engineering graduates entering the technical workforce.
A University of Central Florida research team is studying whether interactive, virtual reality simulations of wildfires can make residents more willing to invest in preventing them.
July 11, 2011
Geo-Immersion Makes Maps Come Alive
This technology allows travel through the virtual world in real time!
When it comes to mapping the real world on computers, University of Southern California computer scientist Cyrus Shahabi takes his work to a whole new dimension.
Upon first glance, his maps contain the typical landmarks we've become accustomed to seeing on Yahoo or Google Maps. If you look a little closer, you'll see the maps are also pulsing with images of moving cars and scenes of bustling people, all in real time. It is part of a new computing concept called "Geo-Immersion" that blends the real and virtual worlds together.
"The idea was to capture a real world environment and then render it virtually so it feels like you are in that area. So you are immersed in that geographical area as if you are in the real world," says Shahabi who also serves as the director of USC's Integrated Media Systems Center, a graduated NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC). Support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has kept the center at the forefront of multimedia and Internet technology. Shahabi says what makes Geo-Immersion unique is its capability to mesh existing information databases and social networks, and integrate them with maps. Geo-Immersion is the foundation of several applications Shahabi has in the works.
One of them is called the "clever transportation" project. It takes a Google map of Los Angeles and adds a few colorful characteristics. Roads that are clogged with slower moving traffic are colored red and roads where traffic is moving faster are colored green.
"These historical patterns are created based on real-time data that we collect," says Shahabi, looking at a full-screen map of LA County. "[It] shows how the trend of traffic changes over the course of time." Depending on the time of day, Shahabi says, the program changes the "fastest path" because it takes traffic into consideration, a trick that Google Maps doesn't have.
Shahabi is also working on another prototype application called iCampus. It gives users on the USC campus real-time locations of their Facebook and Twitter friends as well as a look at building floor plans and energy usage inside campus buildings.
iCampus has numerous applications including "tram tracking." Shahabi says USC trams are outfitted with a GPS unit that transmits a signal every five seconds. "One of my undergrad students built an iPad application on top of iCampus where, from your house, you can check what time the bus gets to the closest stop," says Shahabi. The application, iCampus, has the capabilities to be tailored to other campuses or even small cities.
Another application through Geo-Immersion, called iWatch, could also benefit law enforcement as an enhanced surveillance tool. It includes facial detection ability that can follow a person from location to location.
All of the Geo-Immersion applications are bringing the virtual and actual world a little closer together.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.