Project recreates cities in rich 3D from images harvested online | TechCrunch

People are taking photos and videos all over major cities, all the time, from every angle. Theoretically, with enough of them, you could map every street and building — wait, did I say theoretically? I meant in practice, as the VarCity project has demonstrated with Zurich, Switzerland.This multi-year effort has taken images from numerous online sources — social media, public webcams, transit cameras, aerial shots — and analyzed them to create a 3D map of the city. It’s kind of like the inverse of Google Street View: the photos aren’t illustrating the map, they’re the source of the map itself.

Because that’s the case, the VarCity data is extra rich. Over time, webcams pointed down streets show which direction traffic flows, when people walk on it, and when lights tend to go out. Pictures taken from different angles of the same building provide dimensional data like how big windows are and the surface area of walls.

The algorithms created and tuned over years by the team at ETH Zurich can also tell the difference between sidewalk and road, pavement and grass, and so on. It looks rough, but those blobby edges and shaggy cars can easily be interpreted and refit with more precision.

The idea is that you could set these algorithms free on other large piles of data and automatically create a similarly rich set of data without having to collect it on your own.“The more images and videos the platform can evaluate, the more precise the model becomes,” said a postdoc working on the project, Kenneth Vanhoey, in an ETH Zurich news release. “The aim of our project was to develop the algorithms for such 3D city models, assuming that the volume of available images and videos will also increase dramatically in the years ahead.”Several startups have already emerged from the project: Spectando and Casalva offer virtual building inspections and damage analysis. Parquery monitors parking spaces in real time through its 3D knowledge of the city. UniqFEED (on a different note) monitors broadcasted games to tell advertisers and players how long they’re featured in the feed.

The video above summarizes the research, but a longer one going deeper into the data and showing off the resulting model will be appearing next week.

Source: Project recreates cities in rich 3D from images harvested online | TechCrunch

Apple releases a bit of code to let you put Live Photos on your sites | TechCrunch

Apple’s Live Photos are fun — they’ve definitely captured a few unexpected magical moments for me that standard stills would’ve missed. But for the most part, they live on your phone and stay within the confines of your apps. Seeing them floating around the web, especially on a desktop browser, has always been something of a rarity.

Tumblr kicked down that wall a bit last year by adding Live Photos to its web version and releasing a tool to let others do the same. When it came to an official Apple-approved method, however, there was nothing to be found.

That quietly changed this morning, with Apple updating its developer portal with a new tool they’re calling LivePhotosKit. It’s a JavaScript API built specifically to bring Live Photo playback support to your sites.

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Website builder Wix acquires art community DeviantArt for $36M | TechCrunch has made another acquisition to build out the tools that it provides to users to build and administer websites: it has acquired DeviantArt, an online community for artists, designers and art/design enthusiasts with some 325 million individual pieces of original art and more than 40 million registered members, for $36 million in cash, including $3 million of assumed liabilities.

For DeviantArt’s investors, this was a decent return. Since being founded in 2000, the company had raised about $13.5 million from backers that included Autodesk, DivX and individual investors. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that DeviantArt’s own growth has come largely from word of mouth, with almost no investment made in marketing or advertising. The transaction closed yesterday, Wix tells me.

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Sexy Valentine’s Day art goes on sale at Sotheby’s London, for the first time ever — Quartz

Romantic love has long inspired artists, writers and musicians, and so has its consummation. In honor of Valentine’s Day, auction house Sotheby’s London is putting together its first-ever sale of erotic art. Titled “Erotic: Passion & Desire,” the auction is now showing 107 sexy lots from antiquity to modern days, which open for bidding on Feb. 16.

Artworks include European paintings and sculptures of nude baigneuses, Picasso’s sketches of a woman caressing herself, graphic Chinese scrolls and a collection of Japanese shunga (of course). And then there are the really titillating objects, such as a table with phalluses for legs (dedicated to Catherine the Great), and an x-rated x-ray image.

Source: Sexy Valentine’s Day art goes on sale at Sotheby’s London, for the first time ever — Quartz

How to access 375,000 beautiful, copyright-free images from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — Quartz

The sumptuous lips of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian queen’s face, and the plump belly of a 9th-century Mexican baby, are now at your disposal.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has released 375,000 images of works from its collection, with no restrictions on what you can do with them. The images, all of art in the US public domain, were previously available online, but with some stipulations about commercial use. You can find them at the digital collection, with “Public Domain Artworks” checked in the left-hand column.“[The collection] represents 5,000 years of human endeavor, culture, and thought,” says Lauren Nemroff, head of digital content at the Met. She hopes people will create new works of their own, perhaps like these.

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Fujifilm debuts its GFX 50S digital medium format camera, the X100F and more | TechCrunch

Fujifilm has revealed release dates for a trio of new cameras in its classically inspired retro digital lineup, as well as new lenses and other accessories. The news today from Fujifilm includes pricing and availability for the GFX 50S, the new digital medium format camera with an entirely new lineup of GF system lenses; a new X-T20 compact interchangeable lens camera; and the X100F, the latest in the X100 series of cameras that feature a rangefinder body design and fixed focal length lens.

These all look like great cameras, with the X100F probably holding the most appeal for the average camera buyer. The X100 cameras have been stalwart travel and street photography devices, with a 35mm equivalent F/2.0 lens, and this new generation gets a bunch of new features including improved AF with more autofocus points across the sensor, as well as better boot-up time and time between shutter activations. It inherits a lot from its more professional equivalent, the interchangeable lens X-Pro 2, including a built-in ISO dial that’s integrated into the Shutter Speed Dial for more manual control…

Source: Fujifilm debuts its GFX 50S digital medium format camera, the X100F and more | TechCrunch

Free admission, meditation, tours and the #J20ArtStrike: Art museums are offering refuge from Trump on Inauguration Day — Quartz

Museums across the US are offering refuge for those who want to temporarily block out or process the reality of Donald Trump’s presidency on inauguration day.

Many institutions are offering free or pay-what-you-wish admission on Friday and several are transforming their galleries to agoras for political expression. In New York City, the Whitney Museum will offer artists, writers and activists a stage to release their agony and idealism. The museum is also hosting a participatory discussion about identity, immigration, race, and democracy, drawing inspiration from the museum’s collection of contemporary art collection to kindle dialogues.

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The most popular books at U.S. public libraries in 2016, mapped by city — Quartz

Hollywood has been good to Paula Hawkins. Following the release of a movie adapted from her novel, The Girl on the Train, the book has become one of the most widely read books at US libraries this year.A survey of 14 metropolitan libraries by Quartz shows that The Girl on the Train is the most checked-out book at eight of them, and the most checked-out work of fiction at 11.

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How studying Victorian paintings teach medical students to be better doctors — Quartz

A curious thing happens to medical students shortly after they enter clinical training. As explained in an evocative essay in the New York Times, the students begin to stop trusting their own ability to examine a patient. They instead start to lean on the machines that create medical imagery—MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds—to do the work of “seeing” for them. These and other diagnostic tools are so good at what they do that young doctors may not feel pressured to develop their own powers of observation.That’s a shame, say the previous generations of doctors that act as their mentors, because it means the young docs can miss less-obvious clues in a patient, or the patient’s environment, that could point to obscure or even common health conditions, or teach them something useful about a patient’s lifestyle or mental state.

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Discovered: A $16 million Leonardo da Vinci drawing of St. Sebastian was found in France — Quartz

A stone’s throw away from his famous masterpieces at the Louvre, a newly discovered drawing by Leonardo da Vinci is causing a stir in Paris. A long-lost 530-year old pen and ink sketch has been attributed to the Renaissance genius, according to auction house Tajan who unveiled it yesterday (Nov. 12). The drawing, with two faint scientific drawings on the reverse, was brought to light by a retired French doctor who found it in in his father’s papers.“

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Editorial: What Trump’s Win Means for The Arts

Kultivate has largely tried to remain out of the election fray, only allowing slight commentary in our in world group. But as we are an arts magazine, I feel that it is important to spell out what Trump’s win means for the arts in America.

It is no secret that the arts are always under attack. Usually in public schools, art programs are the first to be cut when a budget crunch hits. From art teachers to music teachers, their numbers have dwindled in America’s public schools. Back when I attended high school, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I can remember my high school having 4 art teachers, 4 music teachers, and many English and literature teachers. My high school offered Art 1 to 4, photography, painting, chorus, band, etc..Fast forward to last year at my nephews high school and he has confirmed that there was only 1 art teacher and 1 music teacher, with less offerings.

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Facebook launches augmented reality selfie “masks” for Live video | TechCrunch

Copying Snapchat and capitalizing on the acquisition of MSQRD, today Facebook finally integrated augmented reality selfie lenses it calls “Masks” into its main app. Starting with Halloween-themed skeleton, witch, and pumpkin masks, some Facebook users can now start to use the special effects when they go Live.

Masks simultaneously make Facebook feel more modern, lure users to Live in order to try them, and decrease self-consciousness while broadcasting.The feature will start rolling out today to iOS users in the US, UK, and New Zealand, and public figures on Facebook Mentions for iOS. Facebook says masks will come to Android and more countries “in the coming months….”

Source: Facebook launches augmented reality selfie “masks” for Live video | TechCrunch

Christopher Marlowe credited in Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays — Quartz

The Oxford University Press will credit Christopher Marlowe as the co-writer in William Shakespeare’s three Henry VI plays, after a research conducted by 23 international scholars supported the theory of his contribution.

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Photos: Antiquated photography techniques allow imperfections to shine through in a new exhibition — Quartz

With the help of technology, photography has become more user-friendly than ever. High quality lenses, powerful digital sensors, and compact cameras have replaced the burly equipment, physical darkrooms, and deadly chemicals of decades past. Now, an amateur picking up a camera for the first time can produce images with incredible sharpness and clarity.

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The Rijksmuseum Dutch national art museum is actually rewarding artists and designers who copy its masterpieces — Quartz

“No cameras allowed” used to be standard practice in museums. Many art institutions tightly policed their collections to contain the so-called “aura of the original” within their walls and have exclusive image rights for books, posters, cards and various bric-a-brac sold at their gift shops.

But the Netherland’s Rijksmuseum believes that art belongs to everyone. “The museum is ultimately the custodian of the works of art, [but] the collections really belong to the public,” explains Femke Diercks, the museum’s curator of European ceramics. Diercks spoke at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to introduce the Rijksstudio Award, a three-year-old program that gives cash prizes to artists and designers who create new work based on the Rijksmuseum’s art collection. “Reproduction of art has been part of the production of art since antiquity,” says Diercks. “Copying old masters was believed to be the perfect way for young artists to develop their own style.”To illustrate her point, Diercks showed a spirited video montage of 211 works of art created by the Amsterdam-based design studio Part of a Bigger Plan.

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From Eadweard Muybridge to Xavi Bou: Contemporary chronophotography captures birds’ flight patterns as beautiful pieces of abstract art — Quartz

Chronophotography, the ancestor of motion pictures, is a 19th-century technique that combines multiple exposures to show movement over time. Images by chronophotography pioneers like Eadweard Muybridge, who famously captured a horses’s gallup, now hang in some of the world’s most important art museums, and recently inspired one Spanish birdwatcher to revive the technique.

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Smartphone addiction: South Korean designer Kim Dong-kyu doctors master paintings to reflect our modern love affair with technology — Quartz

Smartphone addiction is real. In the US, the average user reaches for their phone 150 times a day and a 2016 study estimates that we tap, swipe and click on our devices 2,617 times each day. This all-too familiar epidemic of the social media age is so alarming that researchers have compared the compulsion to check our phones to substance abuse.The universal malady struck a chord with South Korean designer Kim Dong-kyu, who tells Quartz that he was deeply bothered by how much people obsessed over their phones—often to the point of missing out on real-world experiences. “Smartphones emphasize connection and communication,” Dong-kyu muses.”

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The Ma Machinima Salon 2016 | Chantal Harvey


On October 7, my new movie ‘Activate Your Higher Mind’ is premiering in San Francisco, California. The show is an exclusive event, if you want to attend you need to contact me so I can put you on the guest list.  You are very welcome! The film (machinima) is a one hour vision on Art in Virtual Reality, and perhaps a retrospect on 8 years in Second Life, but more so a very personal journey into the future.

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Alan Turing’s 1951 music-making machine: Researchers have restored the first computer-generated song — Quartz

Thanks to major leaps in technology of late, we may now be in the age of AI-generated pop music. But a machine in the 1950s did it first.

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Getty Instagram Grant: Ronny Sen, an Indian photographer won $10,000 with Instagram posts of a fire that’s still raging on after 100 years — Quartz

Ronny Sen (@ronnysen) has been photographing the lives of those who toil on the gigantic coal mine in Jharia, India for the past four years. The Indian Instagrammer and two other photographers recently won $10,000 each from Getty Images Instagram Grant, which supports photographers using Instagram to tell under-reported stories from around the world.

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Weather Photographer of the Year capture rare and dramatic meteorological phenomena in photos — Quartz

Climate change has created a new niche in photography. The Royal Photographic Society and Royal Meteorological Society in the UK announced the very first Weather Photographer of the Year awards on Sept. 10, and released dramatic images of rare weather phenomena.In over 800 submissions of supercell thunderstorms, Arctic diamond dust, and polar stratospheric clouds, the jury of photographers, editors, and a BBC weatherman has picked out the best to show us the serene beauty and power of mother earth….


Source: Weather Photographer of the Year capture rare and dramatic meteorological phenomena in photos — Quartz