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Continued: U, Google pioneer 3-D smartphone mapping software

Roumeliotis said the software that his group is developing for Google “will be ready within less than a year.”

But Strawn thinks Google won’t offer the University of Minnesota software as mainstream product for several years. That would give app developers time to come up with 3-D applications that can take advantage of the technique.

“It will be introduced in the same way that Google released Glass, years before it anticipated the product would be broadly distributed,” Strawn said.

It’s not unusual for Google to reach out to universities for help in creating new technology, Strawn said.

“There’s a lot of valuable brainpower in the university system, and that’s what Google needs to move these projects forward,” he said.

“We’re on the frontier of this kind of mapping,” Roumeliotis said. “You could map the inside of the Mall of America today using a computing center with a lot of processing power and a lot of time. Our plan is to do that on a cellphone in almost real time, with the time lag getting smaller and smaller.”

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  • A cellphone with the 3-D program running showed a hallway in a University of Minnesota building. The hope is the software can help build 3-D maps on the fly.

  • Stergios Roumeliotis, who has worked on map technology since 1995, called the project “as big a revolution as when Google Maps first came out or even bigger.”

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