Visualizing the Undersea World (Trident Kickstarter Update #2)

Original post : Sep 21, 2015

Once again, THANK YOU for all the support and feedback. We've been insanely busy incorporating all of the comments into an FAQ that we'll be posting shortly. Ok, on to the update...

Photogrammetry.

We're so happy that many of you are as enthusiastic as we are about the potential for creating 3D models of the seafloor. We can't wait to see all of your "Windows on the Sea." A number of people had some questions about how the process works, and we wanted to tell you more about what we have planned.

There have been tremendous advancements in the field of reality capture - turning the physical word into digital models - in the past few years. The advancements being made with photogrammetry - creating 3D models from a collection of photos - are the most exciting to us, because our underwater drones already have cameras, and many people already have the tools necessary to get started.

For best results, you'll want to have a downward facing camera. For all of our photogrammetry efforts, we've used a downward facing GoPro. We're planning to include screw mounts for other camera payloads (more on this in a future update). Here's a GoPro attached to the Trident:

Alt Text
It's easy to mount a GoPro to the underside of Trident as shown. We're also working on a mount that is more hydrodynamic and neutrally buoyant.

Although getting these types of models from drones and iPad cameras has become much more common, doing photogrammetry underwater remains a very new field (like really, really new - we learn something almost everytime we do it). We're lucky to have so many of the folks who have been pioneering these efforts in the OpenROV community (and you can see a lot of the discussions in the OpenROV forums).

Alt Text
Coral Reef in Guam via The Hydrous

A friend of OpenROV - Sly Lee, founder of The Hydrous - has really been at the cutting edge of this new technology. You can read more in this article on WIRED. In October, Sly and others are going to be teaching a course in underwater photogrammetry in Bali as part of Maker Corps.

Over the next year, we're going to be putting together a series of educational videos, including one on photogrammetry, as well as hosting meetups like the one taking place in Bali. This community is going to continue to push the limits of what we know and what we can do. If you'd like to take part in the photogrammetry discussions, please log into the forums and say hi.