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Philly in 3-D
June 10, 2005 3:11 PM   Subscribe

Is a "virtual" Philly even better than the real thing? Well, GeoSim Systems thinks so. Except for the aroma of freshly-grilled cheesesteak, at least. Their "Virtual Philadelphia" is the most detailed urban imaging system I've seen yet, and you can read about the monumental process of turning photographic images (taken from both aircraft and street-level) into this incredible rendering in a February 17 NY Times article (reg req). And - as expected - Google wants to get in on the action and do the same thing in San Francisco. via BB
posted by luriete (29 comments total)

 
I just wish the actual browser interface was online!
posted by luriete at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2005


Also mentioned on Urban Cartography.
posted by Typographica at 3:19 PM on June 10, 2005


Damn, another idea taken. I was working on something like this for Boston's N. End four years ago, taking photos and mapping them using the Quake Engine. This is a much spiffier implementation. Google's should be even more spiff-a-roo.

What I eventually wanted to do was integrate it with a GPS unit and a heads-up display so you could overlay a "virtual" street with the real thing. The possibilities of this would be enormous: think, overlaying meta data on the real world. When you're walking around New York, say, and pass in front of MET, the HUD could overlay information like hours of operation, or current special exhibits. Or if you walk in front of a restaurant, you could see their menu without having to go inside. You could switch between real time display and "navigation" where you could "walk" through different streets virtually. Pass in front of a theater and see what's playing, order tickets, then twenty minutes later, when you're actually in front of the theater, walk right in. Or if you're lost, trying to navigate the back alleys of New York, you could instantly get directions anywhere and visually "see" arrows overlayed with the real world.

I might as well lay the cards out on the table, so years from now, when all this is but a memory, archivists can go back and see that the great Civil Disobedient had this idea all those years ago.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:21 PM on June 10, 2005


Is a "virtual" Philly even better than the real thing?

No, but it's easy money betting on Virtual Denver outshining the original.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:44 PM on June 10, 2005


I might as well lay the cards out on the table, so years from now, when all this is but a memory, archivists can go back and see that the great Civil Disobedient had this idea all those years ago.

It's been floating around for awhile. William Gibson publicized this idea first, though, sorry.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2005


I always wanted to do this with my neighborhood but only to make it into a map for Quake or Unreal or Doom.

Pretty neat stuff but why Philly?
posted by fenriq at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2005


Ah yes, the eternal question: why Philly? Let me not answer that one. You might as well ask "why does the dawn follow the night," or "why does springtime precede summer," or "why do the American people elect such nimrods."
posted by luriete at 3:59 PM on June 10, 2005


You know, I work in this field, but even I have a hard time making a strong business argument for large scale 3-D models. I mean, it's cool and all, but it costs a fortune to collect the data. Are people willing to pay large sums for what is, essentially, a novelty?

And, no offense to Civil_Disobedient, but the idea of VR overlays using large scale urban 3d models has been around for at least 10 years... Sorry!
posted by Elpoca at 4:00 PM on June 10, 2005


William Gibson publicized this idea first, though, sorry.

Puh. Leez. The idea is one thing, the actual implementation (linking with GPS, using a HUD) is quite another. In all honesty, I'm sure someone has thought of it before, but no way am I giving Gibson credit.

Did I mention I also discovered the theory of Relativity?

/hates rediscovering things
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:30 PM on June 10, 2005


CD, your amazing idea has about two decades of research behind it and a fancy name. Google for 'Augmented Reality'. But yeah, history will remember your brilliance for sure.
posted by nixerman at 4:32 PM on June 10, 2005


I might as well lay the cards out on the table, so years from now, when all this is but a memory, archivists can go back and see that the great Civil Disobedient had this idea all those years ago.

Great minds thing alike ;) When I was with Rand McNally, this was one of the ideas we kicked around. We were looking at some implementation on the PS/2 which would have been interesting had the money been there.

I love what they've done here!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:32 PM on June 10, 2005


CD, your amazing idea has about two decades of research behind it and a fancy name.

I'm very familiar with different virtual reality systems, nixerman, and my idea has yet to be implemented as I describe. But like I said, I wouldn't be surprised if it's been in development for some time. Two decades, however, would be impossible, simply because commercial GPS units have not been available to the public for that long.

You're talking about general, "big" ideas, and I'm talking about something quite specific.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:40 PM on June 10, 2005


Now, I want a cheesesteak. Damn you all.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 PM on June 10, 2005


You can have your greasy cheesesteak. I want that virtual pixellated male stripper on 13th and Walnut and some pixellated dollar bills. C_D, see if you can whip me up some pixels, genius boy.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:30 PM on June 10, 2005


I'm on it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:01 PM on June 10, 2005


As long as there is no virtual Mayor Street, then yes, a "virtual" Philly is even better than the real thing.
posted by Fat Guy at 8:09 PM on June 10, 2005


Fat Guy, despite your Philadelphia blog (and your username), you obviously have never experienced a cheesesteak properly!

Despite Philadelphia's political mess, the reason for this choice in cities is obvious: culinary delight!

/yes please, more artery clogging goodness.
posted by tozturk at 9:16 PM on June 10, 2005


Well, considering that when I went outside today, Philly was hot and stinky like a crotch (as it has been for the past 22 summers), I'd have to vote for the VR version. On the other hand, it's not as colorful and eclectic.

Why map Philly? Well, it seems as though this is a project based out of Penn University (see the NYT article). Also, Philly's a pretty simple city. New York or San Francisco would be trickier...

on preview: Alex beat me to it on the 13th street reference. By the way, they're not strippers. They're hookers. And those tall women with the broad shoulders aren't women.
posted by Jon-o at 9:27 PM on June 10, 2005


Why Philly? Because Philly is the birthplace of historical citywide VR.

It's entirely appropriate.

(so that years from now, people can look back and say...)
posted by soyjoy at 10:44 PM on June 10, 2005


NY in 3D old-school
posted by rxreed at 11:49 PM on June 10, 2005


These guys don't have a virtual Philly, but they do have dozens of other cities modeled (including a pretty nice San Francisco) and were doing it... 14 years ago?

Also, nobody's mentioned GTA/San Andreas yet in here, another fine example of convincing 3D environments.
posted by Xelf at 11:58 PM on June 10, 2005 [1 favorite]


As a native Philadelphian, I have to say, this is way better than Philly, because I can click on the [X] button and make it go away when I want.
posted by bokane at 12:22 AM on June 11, 2005


I don't like Philly haters.
posted by password at 8:51 AM on June 11, 2005


You can have your greasy cheesesteak. I want that virtual pixellated male stripper

Alex, I say we use our business acumen and combine our two interests into a sliced-meat/exotic dancing emprioum called Cheesesteak & Beefcake.

Have your people call my people.
posted by jonmc at 11:59 AM on June 11, 2005


Port the Philly model into a Counterstrike: Source map, please.

Thanks in advance!
posted by grimcity at 12:51 PM on June 11, 2005


I had a cheesesteak at Pat's yesterday. You can all drool in jealousy.
posted by dmd at 5:13 PM on June 11, 2005


Have your people call my people.

I'm on it, as soon as I finish my Cream Cheese n' Squeeze vegetarian bagel and brothel franchise.
posted by AlexReynolds at 5:34 PM on June 11, 2005


Why does shaved meat with frigging Chhez Whiz on it get all the press? Philadelphia has an iconic dish that doesn't give you wet farts: the Philadelphia soft pretzel. Those things are awesome!
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:40 AM on June 12, 2005


I work in the building in the lower left corner.

whee!
posted by coolgeek at 8:22 PM on June 12, 2005


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