I’ve spoken before, and expressed my admiration with it, about Bing Maps and what they are doing. The use of Streetside in Bing was a huge step forward for Bing Maps in the competition with Google Streetview. And while Google is fighting law suits with Streetview Microsoft simply continues to develop their maps functionality.
At Siggraph 2010 Microsoft presented yet another add on to Bing Maps which has a high “WOW” factor: Street Slide. Together with Bing Streetside and an updated and improved Photosynth navigation (with new Ambient Point Clouds for View Interpolation to improve the transitions effect, see video at the end of this post) Microsoft is really making a huge step here. Check out this video:
So what makes this so special?
Streetview is nice, Streetside was already a bit nicer, why is this so special then? Well, its a number of things. When you’ve seen the video you’ll know already but just to highlight a few things which make this a very special Map application:
The ‘obvious’ stuff
There are a couple of things which are simply obvious add ons, but which make a map application so much more useful:
- clickable business logos
- building numbers
Business logo’s on the map make you find that shop, office or theater just that little bit faster. And if you are looking for a specific adress, what do you look at? Right, building numbers. Integrating these is obvious but very important. And all of this in a Street Slide mobile application off course.
The cool stuff
And then there is the cool stuff:
A wider view
You can take steps back to get an overview of the entire street and still have the feeling you know where you are. The technology Microsoft uses makes sure that the centre part is just zoomed in a bit more so you can see better where you are, while still holding the complete view.
Look behind you
Maybe that shop was on the other side of the street? Try turning in Streetview, you’ll do better in an actual car probably. Not in Street Slide however. In Street Slide you just click on the turn icon and boom, you look the other way. Really nice.
The actual Street slide feature
Finally, getting rid of the ‘Bubbles’. A single panorama doesn’t give you an oversight. Going from bubble to bubble to get to the end of a long street takes forever. Just zooming out and then making bigger steps to get to that specific point is much faster and much more useful.
Unfortunately we will most probably have to wait quite a while before we are going to actually see this live in Bing. First of all Microsoft will still have to implement it so US users won’t be seeing this before the end of the year. As for us Europeans, who knows when Bing will let us in on this beauty :).
In the meanwhile we can watch videos of all the cool stuff. And probably use Streetview in the meantime…
A pdf of how Street Slide works can be downloaded here.. All of Microsoft Research’s Siggraph 2010 papers can be found and downloaded here.
Check out the improved Photosynth navigation: