US: Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a laser backpack that scans its surroundings and creates an instant 3D model. The team is also behind the technology that creates 3D views of major cities on Google Earth.
The outdoor version relies on GPS but one can’t rely on GPS indoors. So, the team in the imaging lab combined a new breed of miniature laser with an inertial management unit (IMU) like the ones that guide missiles.
The IMU localises the backpack, lasers generate the geometry and cameras generate the texture map. All three are fused for precise navigation. Once it’s turned on, there are four cameras snapping pictures simultaneously. As one laser looks left, another laser looks right. One looks at the floor and another looks at the ceiling.
One of the researchers, Avideh Zakhor, said, “One day, users will have a little pack of sensors on their belt. And, as they will walk inside buildings, they will collect data about everything. Every location in the universe, both indoors and outdoors will eventually be mapped and we will have it all online. So, without ever going anywhere, you can see what everybody’s interior looks like.”