Pedestrian-Removing Software Makes for a Creepy Google Streetview

By Joseph Calamia | August 6, 2010 10:48 am
4-pedestrian
1-pedestrian
2-pedestrian
3-pedestrian
5-pedestrian
6-pedestrian

Tired of the faceless urbanites crowding their Google Street Views, computer scientists aimed to remove the pedestrians entirely. The images above show they succeeded, mostly.

The software was developed by Arturo Flores of the University of California, San Diego; earlier this summer he unveiled (pdf) the proof-of-concept. It’s built off of a previous algorithm developed in 2005 that can pick out pedestrians in urban settings. The new program removes the identified pedestrian and covers the gap using  pixels from slightly ahead and slightly behind what appears to be someone walking down the street. But it only works in cities (where tall buildings give a relatively flat backdrop), can create a human smear when the photographed person walked at the same speed as the Google camera, and, one could imagine,  has trouble in huge crowds–where neighboring pixel-swapping might result in blurry Frankenhumans.

But otherwise, it leaves a non-distracting, relatively “ghost free” image, a university press release says, that will further protect pedestrian privacy. When it almost succeeds, it gives users a good laugh: a post-apocalyptic cityscape including disembodied feet, ownerless dogs, and floating umbrellas.

Related content:
Discoblog: Confused (and Injured) Pedestrian Sues Google Maps Over Bad Directions
Discoblog: And the Survey Says: Google Is Not Making You Stupid
Discoblog: My Name Is Topeka, Kansas, but You Can Call Me Google
Discoblog: Tweet Your Prayers, Google Your Ancient Texts

Images: Arturo Flores

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • http://amoebamike.wordpress.com Amoebamike

    Pretty cool. Obviously it’s not going to be the equivalent of a person working with photoshop, but it’s definitely good for a computer algorithm.

  • http://Untitledvanityproject.blogspot.com Rhacodactylus

    They need to talk to those guys over at chat roulette with their penis blocking software, we can get a coop going on.

  • Chris

    I can see the paranormal believers now. “Look there’s a ghost in the window!”

  • grammar!

    “built off of” ?!?!

    “built on”, or better, “based on”.

    Don’t they teach you grammar before you’re allowed to publish here?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »