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3D News

In our opinion, there are far too few people out there taking 3D images and one major reason is the perceived difficulty barrier—taking two images and combining them for a stereo effect with special software or using custom twin digital SLR camera rigs is simply too complex and/or expensive for most of us mere mortals. Enter the 3D-capable point-and-shoot, the latest of which is Panasonic’s upcoming Lumix DMC-3D1. Similar to Fujifilm...

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Editor’s note: This is one of a series of five posts profiling finalists for NVIDIA’s 2015 Global Impact Award, which provides $150,000 to researchers using NVIDIA technology for groundbreaking work that addresses social, humanitarian and environmental problems.

Refugee camps in West Africa. Mobile homes in U.S. tornado corridors. Both densely populated. Both with different needs.

How should governments, health agencies and first responders allocate resources to such areas with fast-changing circumstances? One way would be to learn more by knocking on doors, but that’s impossibly slow and not feasible in many parts of the world.

So some geographers, computer scientists and engineers are instead deploying the world’s fastest supercomputers to map and analyze population size and shifts in unprecedented detail.

To do this, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using NVIDIA GPUs to produce LandScan high-definition global population data.

“Every time you create services, you have to understand where the people are. And when you are trying to mitigate risks, every life counts,” said Budhendra Bhaduri, who leads the Geographic Information Science and Technology group and the Urban Dynamics Institute at Oak Ridge.

The work has placed Oak Ridge among five finalists for NVIDIA’s 2015 Global Impact Award. We award our annual grant of $150,000 to researchers who use NVIDIA technology for groundbreaking work addressing social, humanitarian and environmental problems.

Mapped settlement in Kano, Nigeria

Transforming Urban Planning

Oak Ridge’s analysis is transforming urban infrastructure planning.

It helps guide where to build schools and hospitals. It helps pinpoint areas in critical need after natural disasters.

Knowledge gleaned from polio eradication efforts was even applied to the emergency response to the West African Ebola outbreak.

Top-down modeling from national censuses and satellite images are the traditional tools. But “lots of countries below the equator don’t have a regular census,” said Bhaduri.

Oak Ridge researchers have taken a novel approach, infusing technology into urban planning to measure populations.

“We thought, can you go bottom-up and rewrite population assessment without a national census?” Bhaduri said. “We asked: How can we understand where people are? Then GPUs changed the whole game.”

With the introduction of very high-resolution satellite images, the mapping of smaller settlements became possible on a global scale. This is particularly helpful for remote regions in many less developed countries.

With the research and data analysis, “we could come up with a completely independent estimate of how many people are really on this planet,” Bhaduri. “In some terrains we’re mapping people for the first time in human history.”

Life-Saving Data

Mapping settlements involves advanced algorithms capable of extracting, representing, modeling and interpreting satellite image features.

A decade ago, automated feature extraction algorithms on CPU-based architectures helped speed the identification of settlements. But identifying quick shifts in population—such as migration or changes after a natural disaster—required more computing power.

CPU GPU Architecture

The parallel-processing capability of NVIDIA Tesla GPUs allowed researchers to develop and use the expensive feature descriptor algorithms to process imagery at dramatic speed-ups of up to 200x.

“GPUs reduced the time to hours rather than days—on regular hardware it would take forever,” said Dilip Patlolla, a research scientist at Oak Ridge.

“With GPUs, you can analyze datasets in ways we never could before,” Patlolla said. “You can periodically map a refugee camp to estimate the influx of refugees—that helps planning for humanitarian assistance.”

“Similar to refugee camps, temporary settlements such as mobile homes in the U.S. are also being detected since they are highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as tornadoes,” he said. “It comes down to saving lives.”

The post Mapping the World with GPUs Reveals Population Trends appeared first on The Official NVIDIA Blog.

Embedded computing products are everywhere. In drones whirring overhead. On wrists tracking heartbeats and incoming tweets. On walls regulating the temperature of homes.

These devices are useful in their own ways, but they aren’t particularly powerful.

At NVIDIA, we’re focused on the tough challenges. And this week at Embedded World, just outside Munich in Nuremburg, Germany, we showcased partners who are using our tools where space, weight and power constraints are the norm.

By unlocking the power of the GPU for embedded applications, we’re helping developers bring computer vision to drones, artificial intelligence to robots, and a host of other sophisticated applications that can sense, interpret and respond to the world around us.

We married our embedded processors to a platform that puts power and efficiency at the fingertips of developers.

In the case of our Jetson TK1 development kit, we offer the same GPU architecture that powers some of the world’s fastest supercomputers. This provides a fully functional accelerated computing platform to quickly develop and deploy compute-intensive systems for computer vision, robotics, medicine and more.

GE’s new Mini COM Express module uses the Tegra K1 processor to deliver 326 GFLOPS of performance—while consuming less than 10 watts of power. Compact in size and made rugged for harsh environments, the module targets commercial, aerospace and military applications for everything from industrial process automation to medical imaging to sensor processing.

Concurrent Technologies’ new AdvancedMC module is fitted with up to four Tegra K1 processors for 1.3 TFLOPS of performance on a board that roughly takes up the area of a postcard. It’s designed for applications such as transcoding, image analysis and encryption, where server-based equipment is otherwise impractical to use.

SECO’s new COM-Express Type 6 compact module is based on the Tegra K1 mobile processor. And Toradex showcased the world’s first preview of a module supporting Windows 10, using an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor.

Pack’em in: NVIDIA’s booth showcased embedded computing offerings from a range of partners, and was packed all week.

Our booth included a real-time analysis of the distribution of people visiting us, with SECO and SmartEye. Parrot showed a computer vision tech demo that models in fine detail the environment it observes.

Find out more about our latest offerings in embedded computing here.

The post Headed for Embedded: NVIDIA, Partners Take On Tough Stuff at Embedded World appeared first on The Official NVIDIA Blog.