Visualization of cities and urban landscapes has been a recurrent theme in western art. The key problem in making these visualizations successful is summarizing in a single image the extended linear architectural fabric seen at eye level along a possibly curving or turning street, and doing so without introducing excessive distortions. At the Stanford Computer Graphics Laboratory, we have been building technology for digitizing commercial city blocks from sideways-looking video taken from a vehicle driving down the street. The input to our system is a set of video frames with known camera pose. The output is a single multi-perspective image that summarizes one or more city blocks. In our work, we have explored the use of pushbroom panoramas, cross-slit panoramas, and mosaics of these non-perspective projections interleaved with ordinary perspective views. Possible applications include in-car navigation, online route visualization, and web-based tourism. Broader applications of multi-perspective panoramas from video captured by moving vehicles include remote sensing and mapping, underwater photography, and archaeological documentation. This project is funded by Google.
Current status: This project ended in June 2006, and its technology has been folded into Google's StreetView. Two of the students (Augusto and Vaibhav) are currently at Google working on that project.