With the touch of a button, we were able to search for popular locations in any of San Francisco's neighborhoods. This being a Windows Phone 8 app, any of these destinations or searches could be pinned to the home screen as a Live Tile.
Before starting your trip, Nokia Maps gives a summary of the distance and estimated time of your trip. Look at the top of the screen and you'll see a red bar in this photo that is suggesting to us that we download the map data before embarking. That's right, Nokia offers offline map data.
You can activate floating POI icons on the map for quick navigation -- we have parking lots and garages activated here. Major buildings and landmarks are also represented in Nokia Maps by these 3D models.
Toss the Lumia 822 in a cradle on your vehicle's windshield or dashboard and follow its directions to your chosen destination. I was impressed by the 822's bright and crisp screen, which could be viewed clearly even in direct sunlight.
The second part of my tour of Nokia Maps involved a spin in this, the True car. This Volkswagen Jetta has been fitted with a camera and Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) array that allows it to capture map data as it rolls down the road.
The differential GPS data is complemented with wheel sensors on either side of the vehicle. By measuring the wheel rotation speed and the 3D position of the vehicle using accelerometers, these sensors can tell how fast the car is going, assess the grade and bank of the road, and provide error correction for the GPS data.
Mounted on a roof rack is the most obvious bit of data acquisition equipment, the camera and Lidar array. It's a complex bit of equipment, but it can be simplified to three major elements at work. At the bottom is an array of forward-facing high-resolution cameras that capture the data on street signs (for information such as turn restrictions and street names) and business signs. At the very top is the 360-degree camera array that captures data in the round for panoramic street view.
In between the two banks of cameras is the spinning Lidar array. Sixty-four lasers spin rapidly, scanning the buildings nearby, trees, the road, and even the road markings. More than 1.3 million data points are captured every minute as the True car rolls down the road. Unlike older street scanners, this car can capture at the posted speed limit. Nokia tells us that the company has been able to scan highways at up to 70 mph.
Nokia and Navteq use a network of local drivers who scan every road in their city's territory and add their local knowledge of what roads are changing and need rescanning to the acquisition plan. A single driver can run each vehicle, following a drive plan displayed on the dashboard monitor.
For demonstration purposes, the standard routing screen of the True car was replaced with this visualization of what the Lidar array was scanning in real time. I was able to see the the road, the curb, nearby buildings and signs, and even the markings on the road separating the lanes and marking bike and fire lanes pass under the Lidar's eye.
When asked why a Volkswagen Jetta was chosen as the scanning platform, Nokia's representatives explained that the Jetta wagon's interior volume, accessory power system, and fuel economy make it an ideal True car.
Pop the wagon's hatch and you'll find the computers that process the millions of data points being captured every minute and over 10TB of onboard storage. This much machinery generates a lot of heat and requires space to breathe.