Software has been created that uses a tablet’s rear-facing camera to generate 3-D models of buildings as users walk around them. Researchers designed the software to work optically, using a fisheye lens for the camera and comparing separate images of the same facade features to create an accurate model. The project was developed in a collaboration between ETH Zurich and Google’s Project Tango.

While other modeling techniques use infrared light, the researchers note that the new method works better outdoors in sunlight as the camera-based system isn’t subject to interference from the IR waves present in sunlight. To reduce calculation errors, the software uses real-time feedback and a preview mode that allows users to see which facility areas need to be scanned more thoroughly and areas that are already adequately mapped.

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