Author Archives: Steve Coast

Ubiquitous Geocontext

car park

Saw this in Italy – a car park with little LEDs above each space showing green if the space is free, red if not. So you can drive around the aisles of cars and easily see if there is a space. Now for integration with your TomTom…

Augmenting photos – with OSM!

You climbed up a mountain and took a photo:


And that’s very pretty. But it’s 2009! Why doesn’t it have all kind of magic over the top of it. Enter Marmota. You tell it where you took the photo (maybe your photo has a GPS attached anyway) and it generates a simulated panorama 360 degree wraparound of what the landscape looks like from height field data. It then matches your photo’s pitch, yaw and roll and lens angle against this virtual panorama to figure out exactly where you were pointing it. It uses computer vision techniques to figure out the outline of mountains in your photos to do the matching. Here it’s matched it to pointing at these mountains:


And now you can fade between the computer generated hills and the image itself:


Finally because it knows the height and location of each pixel in the image, you can now in 3D overlay OSM data (such as rivers etc below) on to that picture. You’re augmenting it with things much as wikitude does, but at a higher resolution.


Now of course the output can be played with and overlaid in proprietary and closed projects like Google Earth. Here we’re looking back from a distance toward the location from which the photo was taken. The black areas are hidden shadow areas where hills block the view from where the picture was taken:


These ortho rectified images can be played with in any GIS. Neat huh?

Here’s a short podcast with the projects creator.

Talk today, join on the phone

I’m on a open call on yi-tan today. Dial in details below:

Yi-Tan is a small, independent company created to help everyone understand the changes underway now and learn to thrive in them.

Our principal business is events, ranging from the two-hour Shake Your Brain to the half-day Fast Camps and the full four-day Boot Camp 4 the New Millennium. We also customize programs for specific clients.

Conversations are a necessary element for change. To that end, we host the Yi-Tan Weekly Call as well as the Yi-Tan List, both of which anyone can join. Change also requires continuity. To keep event attendees connected with one another well after their events have ended, we run the Yi-Tan Alumni List.

On Monday: Please join us for the Yi-Tan Weekly Call,
1:30pm Eastern, Monday June 8, 2009

Our topic: OpenStreetMap

Date: Monday, June 8, 2009
Time: 10:30 PST, 1:30 EST

Dial-in Number: 1-270-400-1500
Participant Access Code: 778778

Ubiquitous Geocontext

Watch the talk of the century, Ubiquitous Geocontext from Where 2.0:

As Google translates this article by Luc Vaillancourt:

Who among all these people, representatives of companies, organizations, movements and products, is currently the “hot”?

This is Steve Coast (aka Stave C.).

He initiated the movement of mass collaboration in producing voluntary (professional or amateur) Geographic Information mainly road OpenStreetMap.

It is now serious business with startup CloudMade. CloudMade offer aims to provide an alternative to Google Maps API, but operating a software stack open source and data from OpenStreetMap.

He gave a good conference (see here) where I particularly liked his last 2 minutes (minute 14:40) when he starts sentences like:

– Think of what Openness means to you.
– Google Map Maker is open but there’re restrictions on the license.
– GeoPlanet is amazing but there is still dependency on Yahoo! Itself.
– TomTom think they have a community because you can fix a street. They do not. They have a set of data to customers giving them.
And the last slide of his presentation, a wink of a second Google Pardons and Ed:
– As open as my Clenched Fist – FakeEdParsons

… I suspect Steve C. to personify FakeEdParsons ( It denies the real Ed and swear not to know who it is. Ed is a false be virtual funniest of the community with a sentence like the following:

“Come and learn how lat49 GeoCommons and no longer have business models at the Google Booth” (in reference to the announcement of Google Maps API Data and Maps Ad Unit).

Walking Papers

Walking Papers

Want to get involved in OpenStreetMap but don’t have a GPS or even computer? Now there’s walking papers.

Walking papers lets you print out a OSM map and then write on it. Get home, scan it in and then that map can be drawn on top of using familiar OSM tools. To do this, it prints magic codes on the edge of the map that can be recognised when scanned back in to geolocate the image. If you don’t even have a printer or scanner, they’ll print and scan for you via the postal service. You can meet the author of walking maps, Mike Migurski, and try it out this weekend at the San Francisco Mapping Party.