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The shadowy life of many webcams

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The web has an enormous collection of live cameras view image parks, roads, cities, beaches, mountains, ski-resorts, buildings and more. Over the last 7 years, I have been archiving imagery from most (>25000) publically available outdoor cameras, and working to understand how to effectively use this massively distributed resource as a tool for measurement of our changing world. I will talk about approaches to visualizing very long term time-lapse imagery, and talk specifically about recent work in understanding outdoor shadows and the geometric constraints that relate shadows to 3D shape.

In the context of working with half a billion images from uncontrolled webcams I will conclude with some problems that have turned out to be more challenging that we expected, and some opportunities in applications domains including environmental measurement (phenology measurement) and public health (measuring physical activity behaviours).

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, public talks series.

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