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At Mapillary, we don’t want to simply show you maps – we want you to feel immersed in whichever landscape you’re exploring. Behind-the-scenes, we have been 3D constructing every location our users photograph and now, we want to show you. We’re giving our users the power to virtually explore their own photos like never before.
Our users have taken over 40 million photos to date. Each of these are stitched together with computer vision – a type of artificial intelligence that extracts information from images. For every single photo uploaded, we can automatically match features to the ones in photos from the same geographic vicinity so that we can compute how the images relate to each other and how to navigate from one to the other. This is how users navigate between photos in the Mapillary app and web browser.
Taking it one step further, we can also recover a 3D model of every area photographed. What began as a means to improve positioning of each photo beyond the GPS accuracy given by smartphones turned out to be quite an magical viewing experience.
We couldn’t keep this to ourselves so now users can explore our underlying 3D data by simply clicking the “show point clouds” option in the sidebar in your web browser. We’ve also added full support for panoramas, which enables users to move seamlessly between regular photos and panoramas in 3D, giving them a smooth and other-worldly viewing experience.
Navigate the World in 3D with Us
Check out the 3D data collected from a user walking across the courtyard at the Alcazar Palace in Seville, Spain – you’ll notice the camera positions as white rectangular frames.
Here’s the underlying 3D model of a cemetery building in Sweden.
While this new feature may initially appeal mostly to our geekiest users, 3D reconstruction holds a wealth of value to all of Mapillary. Sure it looks cool, but it also continuously improves the positioning of each photo beyond the capabilities of GPS and enables our customers to make more precise measurements using the photos.
Computer vision is taking maps to the next level. Our algorithms have the ability to not only detect traffic signs and blur faces, but also to navigate photos and virtually explore landscapes in 3D. At Mapillary, we’re constantly exploring what else computer vision can help us uncover and we’re excited to show you even more in the months to come.
CEO & co-founder of Mapillary
Special thanks to Pau Gargallo, Yubin Kuang, Oscar Lorentzon, and OpenSfM contributors who worked tirelessly for the past 10 months to make 3D navigation on Mapillary a reality.
We’d love your feedback, so let us know what you think on Twitter or email.