Aug 18 2011

Cheapest RC Helicopter Video Ever! (with crash)

image_thumbNothing like an RC helicopter ($42) and lightweight video camera ($50) to make some fun on vacation!

Yes, this video lasts only a few seconds and ends with a crash- but… we are still good to go- maybe we’ll even make a great video after a few more tries.

Here’s the first:

Cheapest RC video ever?
Aug 18 2011

KinectFusion builds 3D models in real time

imageFrom KinectFusion HQ:

“KinectFusion, a system that takes live depth data from a moving depth camera and in real-time creates high-quality 3D models. The system allows the user to scan a whole room and its contents within seconds. As the space is explored, new views of the scene and objects are revealed and these are fused into a single 3D model. The system continually tracks the 6DOF pose of the camera and rapidly builds a volumetric representation of arbitrary scenes.”

Would probably only work at night or under low lighting- but I wonder what this would do in a forest understory?   Would attempt to model a solid surface- but would that be useful?

Hmmm… Definitely deserves to be experimented with!

Aug 18 2011

Google Street View Coming to the Amazon


According to
“This week, Google began traversing the rivers and villages of the world's largest rainforest, armed with special imaging equipment, for its latest undertaking: Street View in the Amazon.”

Sounds like great fun- and I can hardly wait to virtually visit the Amazon- if only they scanned using Ecosynth at the same time…

Aug 17 2011

Kinect for ArcGlobe


Yet another reason to get a Kinect - we can get more exercise while using ArcGIS !

According to this blog post- we can use a Kinect to navigate ArcGlobe:

The Applications Prototype Lab atEsri has just completed a prototype using a Kinect to navigate in ArcGlobe.

To fly forward, the user can raise their right hand. The display will navigate in the direct the right hand is pointing. We call this “superman navigation”. If the left hand is elevated, the display will pivot around a central location on the globe surface. And lastly, if both hands are raised, the screen will zoom in or out as the hands are both together or apart.

Shall we get one?

Aug 03 2011

Pentax WG-1 GPS camera–too slow for scanning


I loved the Pentax WG-1 GPS camera when it first arrived.  It looked cool, had a non-extending lens, and offered the potential for GPS tagging our photos during flight – a feature that could be very time-saving for reconstructions.

But out of the box I quickly noted some major drawbacks.  The first was that the GPS only updates every 15 seconds.  At the average speed of 5 m/s of a Hexakopter, that meant that GPS logs would be something like 75m apart!  The unit also has a slower continuous shooting mode than the SD4000, about 1 fps.  The biggest drawback by far though was the lag, which I can only assume is a memory write lag.

I set up the camera to the maximum image quality settings, in continuous shooting mode, and with 15 second GPS refresh.  I was using a brand new Sandisk Extreme 16GB memory card, which would provide professional grade write speeds.  I strapped down the shutter button by lightly taping a plastic nut over the button and wrapping the unit with a velcro strap, just like we do with the SD4000s.  The Pentax WG-1 would take a continuous stream of about 30 photos then stop.  It would show the ‘number of images remaining’ counting down and just hung out.  After sometimes 10-15 seconds it would then resume taking photos continuously, but then repeat the same thing after another 30 photos.  The camera was not taking photos for 10-15 seconds while in continuous shooting mode.  At a flying speed of 5 m/s that means that for 50-75 meters in the air, no pictures would be taken!

I repeated this test with increasingly lower camera settings until I got down to the lowest possible settings of maximum compression and 640x480 resolution.  This time the camera took lots more photos  (~100 or so) but still had a long lag of no photos.

It was this that finally made us decide to send the Pentax WG-1 back.

Based on my research this GPS camera has the fastest GPS refresh time of any other point and shoot style camera, but the continuous shooting ‘lag’ was a deal breaker.

Aug 03 2011

Kinect 3D Scanning for Archeologists

As we’ve seen before, Kinect 3D scanning keeps getting more popular all the time, including for outdoor work in the sciences:  “Archaeologists Now Use Kinect to Build 3-D Models During Digs”.


Still some clear and major issues with using the Kinect outside and for scanning forests, maybe it is time to give this a try in the lab?