A UC Berkley team has built a giant room-scanning backpack, brimming with lasers and cameras, that can map an interior and generate a 3D model. The potential utility for services like Google Maps is huge, but also, laser backpack.
Using four cameras (pointing up, down, right, and left) and four corresponding lasers, the backpack measures the dimensions of a room, and then skins this shell with the photographic imagery. Location is detected via an inertial measurement unit - the same instrument that guides UAVs and satellites.
Beyond the commercial value of this tech to Google or Bing Maps, head researcher Avideh Zakho believes that, "One day, you'll have a little pack of sensors on your belt. And, as you walk inside buildings, you collect data about everything. Every location in the universe, both indoors and outdoors will eventually be mapped and we'll have it all online. So, without ever going anywhere, you can see what everybody's interior looks like."
In the meantime, you know who feels awesome walking around campus?