That's the idea behind PhotoCity, a game being developed and played by researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University. The game is based on top of the researchers' previous Photo Tourism technology, which can put together a detailed 3D model of a building or location by analyzing a series of photos taken from different angles. Microsoft is already using the technology for its PhotoSynth service, but researchers are having trouble encouraging people to submit the tens of thousands of photos needs for a truly accurate "dense point cloud," according to a recent New York Times story.
That's where PhotoCity comes in. The game offers players points for taking digital snapshots from specific flagged points on a map. The team that takes the most pictures from any one location can "capture" that flag, and the player that takes enough pictures surrounding a single building can "own" that building. Researchers are even considering offering real world prizes, according to University of Washington Grad student Kathleen Tuite.
If you have a decent digital camera and happen to be near one of the few test locations, you can join in right now. Everyone else can just check out the cool tutorial trailer after the break.