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Creating 3D Worlds From 2D pics

In the 'Harvest4D' research project, led by TU Wien (Austria), algorithms are developed that can be used to generate 3D worlds easily, using existing image data not necessarily collected for this purpose. Discover the shortcut from mobile phone picture to 3D VR worlds!

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Model created from 3D-scanner data and photographs. Credit: Vienna University of Technology

From Mobile Photo to VR World

It is no longer unusual for computers to display our world in three dimensions. 3D scanners can scan faces, buildings or entire landscapes, and the data can be used to generate 3D models. In most cases though, this process is very complex. In the ‘Harvest4D’ research project, led by TU Wien (under the direction of Prof. Michael Wimmer from TU Wien’s Institute of Computer Graphics and Algorithms), algorithms are therefore being developed that can be used to generate these three-dimensional worlds much more easily, using existing image data not necessarily collected for this purpose. Even the development of these worlds over time can be studied on the computer in this way. This type of software solution can be applied to a range of different fields, from archaeology to flood research.

From 3D to 4D with Added Temporal Dimension

If you know the time the images were taken, you can add a temporal dimension to the three spatial dimensions, and investigate how the observed 3D world changes. This is also a complex task for computers: have the depicted objects actually changed, or do the images just look different because they were taken in different light conditions, from different angles or with different devices? Human beings usually find it pretty easy to answer such questions, but it is a big challenge to teach this skill to a computer. Algorithms such as this could even prove interesting for flood research. "Our algorithms have the potential to be applied almost everywhere, and the opportunities to apply them keep on increasing," project team member Stefan Ohrhallinger says.

More Info

For details about the Harvest4D project supported by the European commission, visit