March 29, 2010

In Internet Game, Cornell Campus has Presence in Three Dimensions

Print More

Cornell’s three-dimensional world on the Internet has gained a competitive edge.

Prof. Noah Snavely, computer science, announced the start of a friendly competition between Cornell students and University of Washington students based on the PhotoCity game that Snavely helped to design. The objective of the competition, which will run for two weeks, is to make the most complete three-dimensional picture of the students’ respective campuses.

The PhotoCity game uses a set of algorithms developed by Snavely and three people from the University of Washington — Prof. Zoran Popovic, computer science and engineering, Kathleen Tuite grad and Dun-Yu Hsiao grad — to make virtual three-dimensional worlds. So far the game has ten locations, including Cornell University. Players join teams once on the website and earn points by taking pictures of under-represented buildings on the game. The set of algorithms then pick up on certain features of a picture and try to find them in other pictures of the same building, thus creating the 3-D model from a flat picture.

Building off of the original idea and website, the competition will challenge students to better understand the architecture and styles of their respective campuses.

Several students said the competition presented an opportunity to expand their knowledge of Cornell.

“Win or lose, if this competition gains attention, it’ll show the world that Cornell is leading post-secondary institutions technologically,” said Gautam Kamath ’12, an engineering student who worked with Snavely on the original project. “It also shows the quality of Cornell academics. So by participating, students are contributing to the reputability of their degree, as well as having fun.”

Through the competition, Snavely said he hopes to grow participation in the original PhotoCity 3-D project.

“This model [created during the two-week competition] will then be used as a way to visualize the campuses — for instance, with a 3-D flythrough,” Snavely said.

While the biggest prize, according to Snavely, is “fame and glory,” some physical prizes will be awarded as added incentives to make the most complete 3-D picture of the University campus.

For example, individual awards are given to the player who contributes the most photos and the player who owns the most real estate. Players “own” real estate by taking the most pictures of a specific building on campus, therefore creating a complete 3-D picture of the building.  Individual competitors from the universities could win several prizes, including a crystal-etched 3-D model of a building on campus.

The final goal is to make Cornell students more aware of their campus while creating an interactive, three-dimensional view of the area, Snavely said.

“Students will learn more about campus, visit areas they may not have seen before and will hopefully get some exercise in the process,” Snavely said.

Original Author: Erika Hooker