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Mapping

Buildings have unique spatial magnetic signatures that can be used for indoor positioning

While GPS tracking tends to be ineffective inside buildings, alternative indoor positioning solutions require the presence of Wi-Fi network access points or other beacons ... or at least, that was the case before a Finnish start-up called IndoorAtlas stepped onto the scene. Its software uses your phone’s built-in compass and measures the anomalies in the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint your location in a building with the accuracy ranging from 0.1 meter to 2 meters (3.93 inches to 6.56 feet). If spiny lobsters can do it, so can we, the logic goes.  Read More

The Android-powered system is contained within a single backpack (Photo: Google)

Over the last few years, Google's specially-designed cars, trikes, trolleys and snowmobiles have brought interactive Street View technology to the cities and jungles of the world – but why stop there? The search giant recently unveiled the Street View Trekker, a hi-tech backpack-contained system that will bring Street View to those places that can only be reached on foot.  Read More

The FINIS Hydro Tracker GPS device allows open water swimmers to map their swims and recor...

For those of us who just swim lengths in pools, keeping track of where we’ve swum is pretty easy. When it comes to triathletes and other people who swim in lakes or the open ocean, however, there aren’t any lane markers to look back on. Instead, they can now use the Hydro Tracker GPS, made by California water sports tech company FINIS. The waterproof device attaches to the user’s goggle straps, then uses GPS technology to create a map of where they’ve been, while also recording performance data.  Read More

Pix4D is a program that creates 3D aerial images by combining hundreds of 2D photographs, ...

While Google Earth can be extremely useful - not to mention a lot of fun - it now has some competition in the form of Pix4D. Instead of satellites, the imaging system uses a small, relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to acquire several hundred 2D photographs of a given geographical area. Those photos are then merged into one image, which users can explore in three dimensions on a computer screen.  Read More

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) software analyzes data from stereo camera vie...

We've looked at a number of efforts to extend the capabilities of the traditional white cane for the visually impaired, such as using ultrasonic echoes or lasers to give users a better lay of the land. But a group of engineering researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are looking to do away with the cane altogether and replace it with a "guide vest" that works in conjunction with a helmet-mounted camera and special software to let wearers "see" the world through tactile feedback.  Read More

Computing and robotics expert Henrik Christensen, with one of the MAST robots (Photo: Geor...

Imagine you're a firefighter arriving at a burning building, but you have no idea what the interior layout of that building is. Do you just enter, then risk your life by randomly walking up and down smokey hallways looking around? What would work better would be if someone or something could quickly map out the building first, then you could take that information and concentrate on getting directly where you need to go. That's the idea behind the U.S. Army's Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance Program, which would see swarms of small rolling, hopping, crawling or flying robots working together on reconnaissance missions in civilian or military applications.  Read More

The Swinglet CAM can take off, snap aerial photos along a chosen route and then land, wher...

With the help of the Swinglet CAM you can create your very own local aerial map a la Google Maps, or monitor wildlife distribution in a given area, or maybe just get a feel for what's going on in the neighborhood. The small, unmanned aerial vehicle can take off and land on its own and its integrated camera will snap high resolution images along a predetermined flightpath or as directed by remote control.  Read More

China has launched its own online mapping service, called Tianditu.cn or 'Map World

China recently launched the state-sponsored Tianditu.cn or "Map World," the country's homegrown answer to Google Maps. While it's an impressive initial effort, the mapping system does resemble Google's a little too much, and it also performs poorly once you navigate outside of Chinese borders.  Read More

UC Berkeley's laser-scanning backpack creates 3D models of buildings, on the fly

Currently, if people wish to obtain a 3D model of an indoor environment, they have to send in a laser-scanning robot or cart that painstakingly makes its way through in a stop-and-start fashion. Depending on the setting, the process can take days or even weeks. Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley, however, have developed a portable laser-scanning backpack that can map an area in the time that it takes for its human wearer to walk through. The project was funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office, and could be used by military personnel to plan missions into mapped target buildings.  Read More

The panoramas that users can 'slide' along in Microsoft's Street Slide (Image: Microsoft R...

Users of Google Street View and Bing Maps Streetside will be familiar with the stop-start effect as they navigate along a street. This is because as the user moves along the street the viewpoint jumps from one discreet 360-degree panorama, or ‘bubble’, to the next . A new street-level imaging system developed by Microsoft called Street Slide allows users to smoothly navigate along a street by creating a seamless transition between bubbles using multiperspective strip panoramas that provide an overview of the street.  Read More

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