Creating 3D models with your mobile phone

In this edition of Futuris, we look at whether our smartphones can help to create sophisticated 3D models.

In a World where smartphones, sensors and cameras are everywhere, researchers dream of using their mobile phones differently.

They want to turn them into active makers of 3D computer models.

Michael Wimmer is a computer scientist with the Harvest 4D project

“The reconstruction of 3D-models is very expensive nowadays,” he told Euronews. “One reason is that very costly equipment has to be used. Also, you have to plan exactly where to put those instruments in order to be able to really create all parts of a model. In this project we are trying to make reconstructions much easier, not with expensive instruments, but with ordinary mobile phones for example or digital cameras which everyone has.”

After complex mathematical calculations, still photos are rendered into 3D models.

Before getting this result, scientists say very different technical challenges had to be overcome.

“The original pictures are of a very different scales,” computer scientist Samir Aroudj told Euronews. “Some are taken from far away. Others just offer details. These different distances also lead to different surface-samples of the objects. If I have a photo taken from far away then the samples are rather imprecise, and should be written over by the ones that have been taken from very closely, in order to reconstruct even small details correctly. Another challenge is to realize which pictures show the same surface-parts, even though they might seem they show different details. Lightning can be different, we might have bright Sun on one image, or a cloudy sky, and yet the computer has to be able to relate the images correctly.”

Google Steps Up Pressure on Partners Tardy in Updating Android

Getting phone makers and carriers to update to the latest version of Android has been one of the thorniest challenges facing Google as it tries to widen the use of its mobile software and generate more sales from its apps and web services.

Now, Google is getting serious about remedying what ails Android, and it’s using both carrots and sticks to get partners to keep the world’s most popular mobile operating system more up to date.

The issue -- a mishmash of different smartphones running outdated software lacking the latest security and features -- has plagued Android since its debut in 2007. But Google has stepped up its efforts recently, accelerating security updates, rolling out technology workarounds and reducing phone testing requirements. 

The Alphabet Inc. unit is also getting tougher, drawing up rankings that could shame some phone makers into better behavior, according to people familiar with the situation.

Keeping Android fresh and unified is crucial because that’s how Google delivers its money-making search engine and new offerings, like the Daydream virtual reality system, in an increasingly mobile world. This only works when phone makers and wireless carriers quickly update devices to newer versions of the operating system.