Researchers at Southampton University have developed an algorithm for matching images of maps on mobile phones.

Dr Jonathon Hare from the university’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) developed the software in conjunction with Prof Paul Lewis.

In use, MapSnapper, as the algorithm is known, enable mobiles phone users to first take a photograph of a section of a map with a camera phone. Then, a high quality photograph of that section is returned to them – with points of interest added. The user can then investigate these further by clicking on them.

‘The vision was to develop a product that would allow users to query a remote information system based on photos of a paper map taken with a camera phone,’ said Dr Hare.

‘The information system could then return useful information to the user via the device. For example, the returned information could include such things as events, facilities, opening times and accommodation in the selected geographical area.’

The algorithm combines a number of computer vision techniques, including interest point extraction and local description generator with multidimensional indexing.