University of New Brunswick

UNB Alumni News Spring 2016

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T he next generation of online mapping is changing the way we see the world. EarthView3D, developed by Yun Zhang and his team in the department of geodesy and geomatics engineering, is unlike current mapping technologies, such as Google Street View. It allows users to see the heights of mountains and the depths of valleys in three dimensions. "Using our EarthView3D technology, civil engineers can more easily foresee where future roads should be built; the military will be better equipped to go into battle; firefighters and search and rescue crews will have more insight before beginning their missions; and school students will learn natural geography more effectively," says Zhang, Canada Research Chair in advanced geomatics image processing. Whereas Google Street View uses a labour-intensive method of stitching together photographs from aircraft to form a forced perspective that gives the viewer an illusion of seeing a building in three dimensions, EarthView3D uses patent pending technology that generates stereoscopic satellite imagery drawn from publicly available satellites, including those owned by NASA. "In order to appreciate the imagery, the viewer needs to wear either NIVIDIA 3D glasses or the more easily accessible anaglyph 3D glasses that invoke memories of spooky Vincent Price movies," says Zhang. "In any case, the effect of seeing such a sharply detailed three- dimensional map is quite startling." The project began in 2005, and the first step was to develop the technology and software, a stage that took nearly three years to complete. Once the initial software was developed, the process moved quickly. For instance, it took only two weeks to create the entire three-dimensional map of Nepal. Zhang says that the reason Nepal was chosen from among all of the regions in the world is that it is a small country that boasts a formidable mountain range, which includes Mount Everest and thus demonstrates the full range of and necessity for 3D technology. In April 2015, Nepal was struck by a magnitude 8 earthquake that triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest. The potential for EarthView3D is there as a useful technology to guide rescue workers through optimal routes in order to help earthquake and avalanche victims. Currently, Zhang and his team are completing a three-dimensional map of North America as a prototype that can demonstrate the multitude of EarthView3D's capabilities. Unlike other online maps, the satellite imagery captures both urban landscapes and natural landscapes in remarkable detail. puTTing UNB on the map ยป ALUMNI NEWS 6

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