/ Corporate / 3-D Indoor Maps Goal of Furukawa’s Research with CAREER Award

3-D Indoor Maps Goal of Furukawa’s Research with CAREER Award

Matt Ball on February 12, 2015 - in Corporate, Modeling, Surveying/Mapping

Do you ever wish you had a better way to find your way around a large building than a printed, one-dimensional map?

​​That may happen soon, thanks to the work of Yasutaka Furukawa, PhD, assistant professor of computer science & engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis. Furukawa has been awarded a prestigious five-year $487,821 Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation to establish a computational framework for structured indoor 3-D modeling.

Furukawa combines 3-D computer vision of indoor scenes with the capabilities of Google Maps and Google Earth to create a unique, high-resolution, photorealistic mapping experience of indoor spaces. He plans to create indoor maps of buildings nationwide and intends to bring his technology to St. Louis to map Washington University’s Danforth Campus.

“The project, if successful, could enable the construction of a structured indoor 3-D model for every building in the world,” Furukawa says. “Such 3-D models would then facilitate novel applications in science, engineering and commerce. People would never get lost indoors since a complete indoor map is in their pocket.”

CAREER Awards support junior faculty who model the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. Furukawa is the 24th faculty member in the School of Engineering & Applied Science to receive the award.

In addition to the research, Furukawa plans to co-teach an interdisciplinary course in computer vision with the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University as well as co-develop a teaching module for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade with a local high school teacher. He also plans to bring in undergraduate summer research students to work on the project, as well as work with graduate students and engineers to offer a workshop on indoor modeling.

Furukawa, who joined the School of Engineering & Applied Science in September 2013 from Google Inc., where he launched MapsGL and Photo Tours, integrates the existing ground-level data of spaces from Google Maps with his modeling application that creates the aerial view to complete the 3-D indoor maps. He’s been working on indoor modeling since 2009.

Furukawa completed postdoctoral research at the University of Washington in Computer Science and Engineering. He earned a doctorate in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008 and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Tokyo in 2001.


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 91 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century

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