3-D Simulation Shows Cities Changing Over Time

Wednesday, 01 October 2014 - 4:09PM
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 - 4:09PM

It might have slightly frightening implications regarding the level of surveillance that can be gleaned from the internet, but it sure is pretty. 


[Credit: New Scientist]


Using 3-D models of Times Square in New York City and Akihabara, Tokyo, as well as millions of photos aggregated from the internet, researchers from Cornell University have created a time lapse video that shows the real-life progression of change in two of the biggest cities in the world. The program overlaid the model with pictures taken between 2011 and 2013, automatically pulling them from all over the internet to create the time lapse effect. In the video, one can see the changes in businesses, billboards, and signs. The resulting effect is like standing in the middle of Times Square and hitting the fast-forward button. 


Ultimately, the researchers believe that their program could have cultural value, particularly by applying it to buildings that have graffiti or street art on them. They already used their technology on 5 Pointz, a decrepit New York City factory building that is known for its graffiti, in order to capture how artistic styles change over time as well as preserving transient art that would otherwise be lost. Team member Noah Snavely said, "Our method can help automatically document what art existed, when, and where, as a way of virtually preserving and exploring that site."


[Credit: Flickr]

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