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From Photos To 3 D Models Fast

Developments to Watch


THE MAKING OF 3-D COMPUTER models of real-world objects is an excruciating process. Hundreds or even thousands of points on the surface of the object--be it an actor's face or a skyscraper--have to be specified and translated into spatial coordinates that the software can read.

Eos Systems Inc. figured the process would be a lot simpler if computers could "stretch" a regular, flat photo into a three-dimensional model. So the Vancouver (B.C.) company devised a simplified approach to photogrammetry--the process used for drawing latitude lines on maps.

Two photos taken from slightly different angles are placed side by side on a computer screen. After the locations of corresponding points in both photos have been ticked off, the computer can create a stereo view. To build a complete model that can be fed into computer-aided drafting (CAD) systems, the procedure is repeated for all sides.

Among Eos Systems' first customers are forensic engineers, who reconstruct crime scenes in 3-D, and TRW Inc., which uses the technique to survey power plants.EDITED BY PETER COY

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