Real-time 3D models with Live3D

A group of graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis have developed an incredible technique to put real-time imagery on the sides of 3D buildings.
In the words of Austin Abrams, one of the members of the group:

In the last few months, we’ve been developing Live3D, a Google Earth-powered web application that allows users to transform photos into 3D geometry in Google Earth. If you give the application a webcam URL, then the geometry of the scene changes as the webcam image refreshes. So, you can recreate (say) the Eiffel tower in 3D and get a live, constantly refreshing 3D model, instead of the static Sketchup model. We have a few examples of university campuses, and you can actually watch in real-time as students walk across the surface of Google Earth.

Once a user has built up a scene enough, the camera is automatically calibrated, revealing its location and orientation.

Swan and Dolphin Hotel

As Digital Urban points out, this technique could work particularly well for urban areas where the content would change much more often (billboards, etc).
The technique is amazing, though it certainly needs some refinement. The biggest problem will likely be the quality of webcam images — most are of lower quality than what would be ideal. Still, that could one day be an option in Google Earth; view the standard model (better looking) or view the real-view version of that model. The possibilities are certainly intriguing.
Check out their site to browse through the models. They’re all shown using the Google Earth Plugin, so you’ll need to have that installed to see them.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Awesome 3D architecture of Vegas!
    I saw Budapest, Vienna, Paris, London, also awesome.
    But this building sure looks good and I am a Star Trek fan, makes me thing of the Klingon architecture/ships 😀

  2. Great project and brilliant picture.I love the pictures, you posted a wonderful one! I have a great time reading your posted information.I’m very impressed by your design.Thank you for the wonderful post. Really cool..

Leave a Reply