Call it Google Maps 2.0. A team of researchers and students at UC Berkeley have developed a "laser backback" that produces fascinating 3-D models of the inside of a building.
"The idea is, you wear the backpack, you walk inside the building, you're done," says Prof. Avideh Zakhor. "Push a button, and out comes this model."
Four cameras snap photos simultaneously, while a set of lasers and positional scanners do the rest. The resulting model is textured with each photograph, providing an unprecedented 3-D map of the inside of each building. As the video points out, the human wearer enables the mapping unit to explore in caves, up stairwells and throughout other areas that a robot simply couldn't travel.
The backpack might herald the next step in online research--even for simple questions like "How fancy is that restaurant?" or "How deep is that cave?"
"Every location, indoors and outdoors, will eventually be mapped," Zakhor said. "And we'll have it all online. Without even going anywhere, you can see what [every] interior looks like."