Aug 18 2010

3D Scanning of UMBC?

 UMBC_3D_scan_crop

Ready for an Ecosynth scan over the entire UMBC campus?  I think it’s time!

I just gave a brief talk about our 3D mapping work to the University administration at the annual retreat.  Along with Stu Schwartz (Senior Scientist, CUERE), Suzanne Braunschweig (Lecturer, UMBC GES), and Patricia La Noue (Director, UMBC Dept. of Interdisciplinary Studies) I was on a panel discussing the value of UMBC’s natural spaces as classroom and laboratory.  I spent my 5 minutes talking about how I use the forests on campus as my lab for developing our new approach to ecological remote sensing.  Suzanne talked about her experiences teaching science classes using the natural environment of UMBC, Stu talked about the campus as a lab for studying the hydrology and planning side of stormwater management strategies, and Patricia talked about her work engaging students of interdisciplinary studies with UMBC’s natural spaces through the Greenway project.

I ended my talk with this point cloud image from the Herbert Run site that really captured the 3D structure of buildings and trees around the dorms of campus, I think it was a big hit!  Link to the Photosynth, here.  I mentioned in this slide how we are thinking about an Ecosynth scan of the whole campus.  Afterwards several people came up to ask about Ecosynth and about a campus ecological inventory.

The area inside the loop is about 63 hectares, easily 10 times bigger than anything we have done before.   But, I think it is possible.  We met with another RC flier on Monday who is a member of the Baltimore Area Soaring Society and is very excited by the value that our work places on his hobby.  He thinks that the Slow Stick might be a great aerial platform for a campus acquisition simply because it requires minimal space for take off and landing (recall that flight from 7/30 where we staged from atop a parking garage).  So, I will have to see how a 3D scan of campus fits in with my schedule of dissertation work.  I think I will need to get some help!  My slides are attached in PDF form below.

 

DANDOIS_ELLIS_UMBC_Ecosynth_short.pdf (3.94 mb)

Aug 03 2010

3D Ecosystem Scanning Presented at ESA

Today I am giving my first oral presentation about our Ecosynth 3D ecosystem scanning system at the annual Ecological Society of America meeting in Pittsburgh PA; this is also my first professional oral presentation!  I am presenting in an Organized Oral Session on Citizen Science to Remote Sensing, the abstract of my talk is here, link.  I am very excited and I think that this will be a great session to present on our new approach for remote sensing of ecosystems in 3D.

I will post my slides after the talk!

 

UPDATE: OK, so the talk went great and was very well received by the audience.  I am having some technical difficulties uploading the powerpoint file.  If you would like a copy please send me an email and I will find a way to get it to you: jdando1 <at> umbc <dot> edu

UPDATE2: I have uploaded my presentation as a PDF file.  It looks like I was running into filesize limitations on the upload.  This strips out my 3D animated graphics, but everything else is still OK.

DANDOIS_and_ELLIS_ESA2010_OOS18-10.pdf (6.18 mb)

Aug 01 2010

Adventures in Personal Remote Sensing

First Post! 

Welcome to the Ecosynth Blog.  I am Jonathan Dandois, a Ph.D. student in the Anthropogenic Landscape Ecology Lab here at UMBC.  I am working on Ecosynth as a system for personal remote sensing for my dissertation research in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems.

I am building this page into a resource for those interested in using the Ecosynth system at their own research sites, or in their own backyards, and as a place where myself and other ‘Ecosynthers’ can post about their own progress and experiences with personal remote sensing.  You can find out a bit of the history of Ecosynth on the About Ecosynth page. I am building a page that details our techniques for personal remote sensing using the computer vision software Bundler and Photosynth, but that one is not ready for the world just yet.  I am also setting up a page about the history of our “adventures” doing remote sensing using RC planes, helicopters and kites. 

But, back to the fun stuff.

With the purchase of two high-speed cameras (thanks to Erle’s research), a Canon SD4000 and a Casio EX FS10, our aerial photo acquisitions have taken a giant step forward.  We attach the cameras to the underside of the GWS Slow Stick frame in a mount that holds it in place and keeps the shutter pressed so that the camera takes photos continuously. 

Here is an oqlique aerial panorama I made with some photos I took of campus with the SD4000 mounted on a Slow Stick.  This panorama was made with the free software Hugin, which uses the same SIFT feature identification algorithm that Bundler and Photosynth use.

Aerial Panorama of campus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For someone that has worked with images of the land taken from airplanes and satellites, it is very exciting to be collecting my own remote sensing imagery.  We are also generating great 3D 'synths' from the high-overlap photos collected with the SD4000.   This screen capture of a 3D point cloud was generated from a collection of 1000 photos we took over the Knoll yesterday afternoon. The photosynth can be viewed here, link. This screen-cap is from the free-software Meshlab and I used the free Photosynth Point Cloud Exporter tool to grab the points from the Photosynth website for local use.

This is really promising.  While we are still refining are choice of aerial platform, but now we are at the point where we can begin to perform our research about understanding how computer vision can be used for remote sensing, and the intricate details that will make it work reliably.

PPCE_07302010_Knoll_0Snap00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also just purchased a Garmin Edge 500, for making a GPS track of the flight. While this is designed for biking and tracking ‘calories burned’ or ‘power’ we wanted to see how it would work for us.  It is very light-weight (57g) and easy to use.   We are still trying to work with component / data logger based GPS equipment commonly marketed for use with remote cotrolled planes, e.g., the Eagle Tree telemetry systems, but the Garmin Edge has so far proven very easy to use and likely offers the same GPS position accuracy.

Below is the track uploaded in Google Earth.  We use the Garmin Training Center software to interface with the GPS.  The software is quite user friendly and has a few nice features.  It effortlessly uploads data to Google Earth, which can then be exported to KML and then off to ArcGIS.  It plots a simple map of the track onto a background map if it has one available.  It also plots graphs of the speed and other characteristics of the flight, mostly things we don’t need though!

google-earth_track_capture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another synth I was running from a set of photos I collected over our Herbert Run site just finished, link here.

That is all for now.  A lot more progress to follow.  The cutting edge of remote sensing is quite exciting!