MapSnapper allows queries of points of interest on maps

Published 25 January 2008

Southampton University researchers develop MapSnapper; solution allows cell phone users to take pictures of map sections and have the pictures come back to them with points of interest added; these points of interest can then be queried further; solution could help phone screen advertising — and first responders rushing to the scene of a disaster

Researchers at Southampton University have developed an algorithm for matching images of maps on mobile phones. Dr. Jonathon Hare from the university’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) developed the software in conjunction with Professor Paul Lewis.

In use, MapSnapper, as the algorithm is known, enable mobiles phone users first to take a photograph of a section of a map with a camera phone. Then, a high quality photograph of that section is returned to them — with points of interest added. The user can then investigate these further by clicking on them. “The vision was to develop a product that would allow users to query a remote information system based on photos of a paper map taken with a camera phone,” said Hare. “The information system could then return useful information to the user via the device. For example, the returned information could include such things as events, facilities, opening times and accommodation in the selected geographical area.”

The algorithm combines a number of computer vision techniques, including interest point extraction and local description generator with multidimensional indexing.