Software Generates 3D Models To Illustrate Wikipedia Articles [Video]

Program guides users through popular tourist spots online using Flickr and Google Images.

Sara Boboltz
Sara Boboltz on October 4, 2013. @sara_bee

Say you’re researching the Sistine Chapel on Wikipedia, learning about frescoes, tapestries, and barrel vaults. Wouldn’t it be nice if your reading material could also point out each artistic or architectural flourish as you went, walking you through the site like a Vatican tour guide? Now there’s a computer program that can help.

Developed by Intel Labs‘ Bryan Russell and his colleagues at the University of Washington, all the program needs to create a virtual map is Flickr and Google Images. First it generates a 3D map by scanning Flickr for images of a location, getting an idea of actual size and dimensions by analyzing photos taken from different angles. Then, it searches Google Images for key nouns from the Wikipedia article to identify important features, and places those photos in their approximate spots. Level of success depends, of course, on how well-documented the site is online. The program simply relies on a good supply of properly captioned images (any that are publicly accessible) as it pieces each location together.

Take a look at the software below:

Intel Labs // University of Washington