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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:11 AM   #1
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Video Walkthrough of C3 Technologies' 3D Mapping Process




Over the weekend, there was a report that Apple did indeed acquire 3D mapping company C3 Technologies. In our original profile of the company, we mentioned that it was purchased in part from Saab AB, a Swedish aerospace and defense company.

The technology had originally been developed for military purposes such as missile targetting. Here's a video of how the mapping data is obtained:

Technology Review previously described the process:
Quote:
C3's models are generated with little human intervention. First, a plane equipped with a custom-designed package of professional-grade digital single-lens reflex cameras takes aerial photos. Four cameras look out along the main compass points, at oblique angles to the ground, to image buildings from the side as well as above. Additional cameras (the exact number is secret) capture overlapping images from their own carefully determined angles, producing a final set that contains all the information needed for a full 3-D rendering of a city's buildings. Machine-vision software developed by C3 compares pairs of overlapping images to gauge depth, just as our brains use stereo vision, to produce a richly detailed 3-D model.
Article Link: Video Walkthrough of C3 Technologies' 3D Mapping Process
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:17 AM   #2
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We need street level - unless Apple is developing the iHoverCraft.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:18 AM   #3
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Take a look at maps.nokia.com/3D/ and try their on the fly 3d mapping. It's pretty good!

Works in Chrome with a plugin, haven't tried it in other browers.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:28 AM   #4
arn
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more video on an ipad
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:30 AM   #5
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YouTube: video

more video on an ipad
I believe that's London, not San Francisco.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:45 AM   #6
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It is incredible.

I still find even the regular Google Maps to be an amazing achievement. A data-set of photos covering the entire planet at pretty close range. And we all have access. For free. That's insanely great in my book.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 04:26 AM   #7
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I believe that's London, not San Francisco.
Yeah, Big Ben and Wimbley kind of give it away.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 05:06 AM   #8
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So, is it acquired by Apple and Saab together?
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 05:55 AM   #9
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So, is it acquired by Apple and Saab together?
Hardly. SAAB is licensing the technology from C3.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 07:33 AM   #10
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If this is what becomes of the maps app in ios, that's freaking amazing, imagine that with turn by turn navigation...
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 07:44 AM   #11
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Holy schnike Richard!!
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 07:53 AM   #12
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Apple will introduce revolutionary 3d mapping in ios 6 and iPhone 5 and people will say it fails because it does not have the same screen size as the latest 5.9" android screen
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 08:03 AM   #13
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Wait. This tech can render objects on the fly, with correct polygonal representations? Or do cities have to be processed by C3 first, before they're compatible, like how Google had to do with 3D maps in Android and cars photographing the actual streets for Street View?
If it's the former, how does it know how get the correct building/structure heights/dimensions correct, without any Pre-determined info being required first?

Excuse my ignorance here.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 08:13 AM   #14
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Once you know how it's done it seems pretty obvious really. I would think easily emulated without any legal issues. You can't patent taking pictures from various angles and stitching them into a 3D map isn't rocket science.

That said, I am excited about Apple acquiring this technology along with the other map related companies they have recently bought so we can finally have Apple mapping but I don't see anything stopping Google and Microsoft doing the same thing if they already haven't.

Google's use of SketchUp is certainly labor intensive and crude by comparison but it does leave open the possibilities of actually having virtual 'walk arounds' of buildings. If the SAAB technology could determine buildings and 'break them out' as XYZ objects automatically it would be nice. People mention street view, if the resolution is high enough and this 'break out' could be achieved then you basically have a street view already and I'm sure the software could be adapted to integrate additional imagery taken from ground level if it doesn't already.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 08:35 AM   #15
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Does anybody else realize that they are physically going to have to fly over the entire earth every time they want to update buildings, roads, etc and then generate the data? The way the video describes, it seems dreadfully slow...

the surface area of the USA alone about 10 Million km^2. Which translates to 100,000 flying hours. Which translates to 500,000 hours to interpret and graph the data. Assuming 12 hours a day (daylight hours, and this is generous due to storms etc) for flights it would take nearly 23 years of flight time (obviously they would use more than one aircraft) to create just the US. And data interpretation 24/7 for the US would take 57 years. Even if they set up 100 data interpreting stations across the US it would take over half a year to generate the data.

Then land area of the whole world is about 150 million km^2 (or 510 million if you want to also include oceans).To keep the mapping update process under a year you would need nearly 1,000 data interpreting stations and over 300 aircraft. It's all possible, but just seems like a logistical nightmare, especially for something so far outside Apple's expertise.

I'm wondering how frequently Apple would update the maps.... And if Apple didn't update the maps it would become outdated pretty quickly.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 08:38 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
Does anybody else realize that they are physically going to have to fly over the entire earth every time they want to update buildings, roads, etc and then generate the data? The way the video describes, it seems dreadfully slow...

the surface area of the USA alone about 10 Million km^2. Which translates to 100,000 flying hours. Which translates to 500,000 hours to interpret and graph the data. Assuming 12 hours a day (daylight hours) for flights it would take nearly 23 years of flight time (obviously they would use more than one aircraft) to create just the US. And data interpretation 24/7 for the US would take 57 years. Even if they set up 100 data interpreting stations across the US it would take over half a year to generate the data.

Then land area of the whole world is about 150 million km^2 (or 510 million if you want to also include oceans).To keep the mapping update process under a year you would need nearly 1,000 data interpreting stations and over 300 aircraft. It's all possible, but just seems like a logistical nightmare, especially for something so far outside Apple's expertise.

I'm wondering how frequently Apple would update the maps.... And if Apple didn't update the maps it would become outdated pretty quickly.
Perhaps satellites can be used to update much of the initial imagery, heck you can read the label on a can of beans from space these days.

Which brings up another point ... When will Apple have their own satellites to augment iCloud? They can afford it
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 08:48 AM   #17
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Perhaps satellites can be used to update much of the initial imagery, heck you can read the label on a can of beans from space these days.
I dunno... They could get 2D photographs sure, but the point of the fly over is to get shots from all angles to identify all the dimensions.

but yeah, hopefully there would be some quicker way to just update the few changes.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 09:02 AM   #18
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These images seem to be incredibly high-detail, as noted in the video. But won't that make them take much longer to download?

Especially while driving, I don't think anyone would be crazy about their data being used up on HD maps.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 09:34 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
Does anybody else realize that they are physically going to have to fly over the entire earth every time they want to update buildings, roads, etc and then generate the data? The way the video describes, it seems dreadfully slow...
The surface area of the USA alone about 10 Million km^2. Which translates to 100,000 flying hours. Which translates to 500,000 hours to interpret and graph the data. Assuming 12 hours a day for flights it would take nearly 23 years of flight time to create just the US. And data interpretation 24/7 for the US would take 57 years.
I'm wondering how frequently Apple would update the maps.... And if Apple didn't update the maps it would become outdated pretty quickly.
But you aren't likely to see updates of places that don't need them, so maybe urban centers get updated but 99% of the world is exactly the same year to year. The Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains and Alaska don't tend to change, and they make up the bulk of the surface area of our country. If they make the map high enough quality the first time i see no reason to update the majority of it ever again, unless of course systems become available to make it more accurate or of a greater resolution.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 10:02 AM   #20
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I'm always impressed with human capabilities.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 10:52 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Henriok
Quote:
Originally Posted by ironsienna View Post
So, is it acquired by Apple and Saab together?
Hardly. SAAB is licensing the technology from C3.
Saab initially started C3 as a spin off company, apple then bought C3 from amongst others SAAB. So yes, if saab is still using
C3:s technology they probably will need to license it
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 12:19 PM   #22
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Yeah, Big Ben and Wimbley kind of give it away.

That sure is Big Ben, but it definitely is not Wembley!

RTP.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 12:27 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
Does anybody else realize that they are physically going to have to fly over the entire earth every time they want to update buildings, roads, etc and then generate the data? The way the video describes, it seems dreadfully slow...

the surface area of the USA alone about 10 Million km^2. Which translates to 100,000 flying hours. Which translates to 500,000 hours to interpret and graph the data. Assuming 12 hours a day (daylight hours, and this is generous due to storms etc) for flights it would take nearly 23 years of flight time (obviously they would use more than one aircraft) to create just the US. And data interpretation 24/7 for the US would take 57 years. Even if they set up 100 data interpreting stations across the US it would take over half a year to generate the data.

Then land area of the whole world is about 150 million km^2 (or 510 million if you want to also include oceans).To keep the mapping update process under a year you would need nearly 1,000 data interpreting stations and over 300 aircraft. It's all possible, but just seems like a logistical nightmare, especially for something so far outside Apple's expertise.

I'm wondering how frequently Apple would update the maps.... And if Apple didn't update the maps it would become outdated pretty quickly.
Just to put it in perspective, mapping of our planet has been going on for more that 2,000 year.

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Old Nov 1, 2011, 02:36 PM   #24
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I know I've already posted but PLEASE!!! look at Nokia 3D mapping. I stumbled upon it by accident but the quality seems as good as the second video in this thread - and the loading time quicker.

See what you think. I'd be interested to here people's thoughts and feedback.

So far the main problem with the Nokia version is limited coverage.

http://maps.nokia.com/3D/

----------

Oh - try it in Chrome rather than Safari - seems easier to install the plugin with Chrome.
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Old Nov 1, 2011, 03:56 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mad Mac Maniac View Post
Does anybody else realize that they are physically going to have to fly over the entire earth every time they want to update buildings, roads, etc and then generate the data? The way the video describes, it seems dreadfully slow...

the surface area of the USA alone about 10 Million km^2. Which translates to 100,000 flying hours. Which translates to 500,000 hours to interpret and graph the data. Assuming 12 hours a day (daylight hours, and this is generous due to storms etc) for flights it would take nearly 23 years of flight time (obviously they would use more than one aircraft) to create just the US. And data interpretation 24/7 for the US would take 57 years. Even if they set up 100 data interpreting stations across the US it would take over half a year to generate the data.

Then land area of the whole world is about 150 million km^2 (or 510 million if you want to also include oceans).To keep the mapping update process under a year you would need nearly 1,000 data interpreting stations and over 300 aircraft. It's all possible, but just seems like a logistical nightmare, especially for something so far outside Apple's expertise.

I'm wondering how frequently Apple would update the maps.... And if Apple didn't update the maps it would become outdated pretty quickly.

I wonder how long it took that one google street view van to drive on every single road in the world.
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