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New digital map technology

A system which allows mobile ‘phone users to photograph sections of maps and gain access to a wealth of information online, has been developed.

Dr Jonathan Hare and Professor Paul Lewis at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) worked with Layla Gordon and Glen Hart from Ordance Survey’s Research Labs, to develop Map Snapper, an initiative to make paper maps more flexible.

The thinking behind Map Snapper is that the paper map can allow individuals to access more services online, consequently marrying up the traditional map with the vast resources on the Web.

The researchers went on to develop a system which allows individuals to take a photograph of a section of a map with a camera phone. This verifies the location and returns an electronic image with points of interest added which the user can investigate further by clicking on them.

‘For example, if I am heading for Salisbury, the electronic map could give me the location of hotels for me to click on to find out more and could also tell me if there are any festivals or exhibitions going on there,’ Professor Lewis commented.

The team used image matching technology to retrieve the electronic images and make them available digitally. The technology now exists for digital images of this type to become a reality and the initiative could provide commercial opportunities for companies who want to advertise their features.

‘Map Snapper clearly demonstrates the power of new digital content, and yet puts it into the hands of the traditional paper map user’, said David Overton, Exploitation Manager at Ordnance Survey. ‘As an organisation deeply involved in both, we find this project very inspiring.’

Helene Murphy | alfa
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