Nov 11 2011

GoPro HERO 2 in hand, now I just need time!

OK, so now I have a new GoPro HERO2 camera shooting 11MP stills at 2fps, I just need the time to go out and test it at our study sites.

First things first, this camera is shooting stills with relatively wide field of view (FOV) and we don't know what that is going to do to structure from motion computation.  The camera shoots in full 170º FOV in 11MP and full or medium 127º FOV at 8MP and 5MP.  Narrow, 90º FOV, options most similar (although still wider) than the other cameras used in our research, are only available in video mode.

Some initial tests with ground subjects on campus have produced somewhat positive results, I think it is too early to tell for sure.

More to follow, when I can get to it.

Nov 08 2011

Color and Statistics

This was just just searching for a specific range of Hue, Saturation and Values. It obviously picked up a lot of stuff other than what I wanted, like almost green colors. Also there are way too many points. 






This is using the correlation between each point and an orange of (30,100,100). Less points have been picked up but most of them are still not from the buckets. I need to pick the perfect value for orange and then pick a really large correlation coefficient to limit the points to just the buckets. Its going to be a little hard to find the exact right color to use as the base color.

I'm going to manually search through some of the point clouds and find out what color the buckets actually are. I already have an idea from one small subset of points that included one bucket, but I need a larger sample of points to get better mean values for h s and v. Once I've done that maybe it will be easier to pick out the buckets from the above messes of points.

Nov 02 2011

Baby-Steps: Taking 'Personal' Multicopter to a Whole New Level

My friend just sent me a link to a Gizmodo article about a truly personal multirotor aircraft: a 16 motor electric (li-po?) behemoth equipped with its own passenger/driver seat and designed by the e-volo team in Germany.  Check out the video on their website, I want one!

Not only could this provide an interesting platform for the personal remote sensing we are interested in with Ecosynth - but I can only imagine the thrill of skimming above the tree tops, getting a truly birds-eye view of the canopy.

The future is so cool.

So Garrett and lab project?

Image credit:

Nov 01 2011


I'm still working on trying to pick out the orange points in the point cloud. To possibly remove the problem of extraneous "orange" points that don't actually point to the buckets placed in the field. The buckets are spread out far enough that the volume I search for points in can be pretty large, like almost the size of the problematic building. Now if there are only a few points with in a certain radius, this could suggest that there is a bucket there. I'm going to restrict the number of points per unit volume to be less than 5 or 10. 

There seems to be a lot of things that could go wrong with this approach and I was told a different color space might be less messy. Besides RGB, there is also a number of other spaces. I was told that HSV might be a good thing to look into. HSV is better because it defines color relationships the same way the human eye does. RGB does not do this, which could be why its hard to pick out one particular color. 


Nov 01 2011

Personal remote sensing goes live: Mapping with Ardupilot

Folks all over are waking up to the fact that remote sensing is now something you really should try at home!  Today DIYDrones published a fine example of homebrew 3D mapping using an RC plane, a regular camera, and a computer vision software: hypr3d (one I’ve never heard of).  Hello Jonathan!


PS: I’d be glad to pay for a 3D print of our best Ecosynth- hypr3D can do it, so can

Oct 29 2011

GoPro HD Hero

Because the Ecosynth team has been looking at purchasing the GoPro Hero2 as our next platform camera I figured I'd share some of the videos I've taken with the GoPro Hero. These videos were recorded over the past summer in Cockeysville Maryland. The body of water that's visible when flying at higher altitudes is loch raven reservoir. The GoPro hero is one of the lightest and least expensive HD Cameras on the market and I'm very pleased with its performance so far. The videos were uploaded in HD remember to turn HD on.

Oct 25 2011

Locating a Color

I'm thinking about trying to use statistics to pick a good range of colors to search through the point clouds to pick out an object of a certain color. Right now I'm just looking for the bright orange buckets that were placed throughout the test site. I searched online and picked out all of the RGB values for colors I thought were close enough to orange and found their mean and standard deviation. For orange I got a mean RGB of (245, 110, 20), which corresponds to this color here. Maybe it would be a good idea to allow the user to pick how many standard deviations to go out to (1, 2 or 3) in case some points are missed.

ArcMap was also provides these statistics given a set of selected points, and I used this data to test run the first part of the code I wrote. I picked what I thought was a suitable range of RGB values and ran the code for a point cloud overlayed on an image of UMBC. This image also included the locations of all of the orange buckets that were placed and captured in the scan. The code generated a set of points that fell in RGB range, and when plotted on this image, it seemed to work for most of the locations. The main problem with this, is the code found a lot of points where there was obviously not a bucket, but something larger like a car or the huge building on campus that has a slightly orange roof.


The original idea was only to indicate one (x,y,z) coordinate for every clump of orange points within a certain volume, which would indicate one bucket. Maybe a way to remedy the extra points, besides tuning the color range, would be to limit to how far out a "density" of these points should be maintained. For example, if a density of 10 points per cubic meter was maintained for over 1 cubic meter, that area may indicate something larger than a bucket. This means I need to find an appropriate density and volume that would indicate a bucket in the point cloud, and get rid of anything that has this density for a volume larger than the estimated bucket's volume.



Oct 25 2011

CAO Dreaming

Breakthrough technology enables 3D mapping of rainforests, tree by tree” - the latest news from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO)- but also old news: since about 2006, the CAO has been the most powerful 3D forest scanning system ever devised, and Greg Asner has continually improved it.

The CAO was the original inspiration behind Ecosynth.  In 2006/2007, I  was on sabbatical at the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institute of Washington at Stanford, and my office was right next to Greg’s.   Though he was mostly in Hawaii getting the CAO up and running, he and his team at Stanford completely sold me on the idea that the future of ecologically relevant remote sensing was multispectral 3D scanning (or better- hyperspectral- but one must start somewhere!). 

I coveted the CAO.   I wanted so much to use it to scan my research sites in China.  Our high-resolution ecological mapping efforts there had been so difficult and the 3D approach seemed to offer the chance to overcome so many of the challenges we faced. 

Yet it still seemed impossible to make it happen- gaining permission to fly a surveillance-grade remote sensing system over China?  It would take years and tremendous logistical and political obstacles to overcome.  So I changed my thinking…

What if we could fly over landscapes with a small hobbyist-grade remote controlled aircraft with a tiny LiDAR and a camera?  Alas, no, - LiDAR systems (high grade GPS + IMU) are way too heavy, and will be for a long time.

Then I saw Photosynth, and I thought- maybe that approach to generating 3D scans from multiple photographs might allow us to scan landscapes on demand without major logistical hassles?  The answer is yes, and the result, translated into reality by Jonathan Dandois, is Ecosynth.

Can Ecosynth achieve capabilities similar to CAO?  Our ultimate goal is to find out.   And make it cheap and accessible to all- as the first “personal” remote sensing system of the Anthropocene.

Oct 25 2011

A new contender: GoPro launches HD Hero2

This camera looks like it might be a great new camera to try in aerial and ground ecosynth work (note: 2 11 MP photos per second):

GoPro launches HD Hero2 helmet cam, announces video streaming Wi-Fi pack for winter

List of HD HERO2 Feature Enhancements:
• Professional 11MP Sensor
• 2x Faster Image Processor
• 2X Sharper Glass Lens
• Professional Low Light Performance
• Full 170º, Medium 127º, Narrow 90º FOV in 1080p and 720p Video
• 120 fps WVGA, 60 fps 720p, 48 fps 960p, 30 fps 1080p Video
• Full 170º and Medium 127º FOV Photos
• 10 11MP Photos Per Second Burst
• 1 11MP Photo Every 0.5 Sec Timelapse Mode
• 3.5mm External Stereo Microphone Input
• Simple Language-based User Interface
• Compatible with Wi-Fi BacPac™ and Wi-Fi Remote™
- Long Range Remote Control of up to 50 GoPro Cameras per Wifi Remote
- Wi-Fi Video/Photo Preview, Playback and Control via GoPro App
- Live Streaming Video and Photos to the Web

Oct 25 2011

WiFi 1.5-mile range: never lose signal in the forest again?

WiFi for Ecosynth?  Amped Wireless Unveils Its Professional Series High Power Repeater and Access Point with Wi-Fi Coverage Range of Up to 1.5 Miles

Amped Wireless unveils its professional long-range Wi-Fi Access Point and Repeater that provide Wi-Fi coverage for large homes, offices, building-to-building applications, open outdoor areas, boats, marinas, RVs and parks.

CHINO HILLS, Calif., Oct. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Amped Wireless, the leading manufacturer of high-power, long-range wireless products for the home and office, adds to its successful line of Professional Series High Power Wi-Fi Solutions for indoor and outdoor applications. All Amped Wireless Professional Series High Power Wi-Fi Solutions feature a weatherproof enclosure for indoor and outdoor use, an advanced 600mW amplifier for professional Wi-Fi range, and a high-gain directional antenna to achieve strong, wireless connections up to 1.5 miles. Amped Wireless Professional Series