Aug. 23, 2011

Noah Snavely recognized as a top tech innovator

Technology Review magazine has named Noah Snavely, assistant professor of computer science, one of its 2011 "TR35," the magazine's selection of top technology innovators under age 35.

Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, annually honors researchers under 35 whose work the editors find most exciting, in a wide array of disciplines, including medicine, computing, communications, electronics and nanotechnology. Winners from previous years, the magazine says, "have changed the world."

"It's an incredible honor to be listed on the TR35," Snavely said. "I'm very gratified that they've recognized my research, but also very lucky to work on this research with such great colleagues and students here at Cornell."

Snavely has developed methods to match the details of many still photographs of the same scene and stitch them together into a 3-D rendering. To demonstrate, he has created 3-D images of popular tourist destinations from the hundreds of images posted to the Flickr photo-sharing website and launched an online game, PhotoCity, in which Cornell and the University of Washington (where Snavely began his research as a graduate student) are competing to build 3-D campus maps. PhotoCity also is building models of city locations from midtown Manhattan to the International District in Seattle, and as far away as Red Square in Moscow. Microsoft developed some of Snavely's technology into an application called Photosynth, which it ties in with Bing Maps.

A future direction, Snavely says, will be to organize all the images that exist online, "to combine all these cameras all over the world into a big distributed camera you can use to image anything you want."

Snavely joined the Cornell faculty in 2009. He earned his B.S. in computer science and mathematics at the University of Arizona in 2003, and his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Washington in 2008. In July he received a Microsoft Faculty Fellowship to support expansion of his research.

Cornellians who made the TR35 list in prior years include Matthew DeLisa and Abraham Stroock '95, assistant professors of chemical and biomolecular engineering; Rajit Manohar, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Geoffrey Coates, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology; Alyssa Apsel, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Josh Bongard, a recent Cornell postdoctoral researcher who is an assistant professor of computing science at the University of Vermont.