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Microsoft's new mapping tricksCNET's Ina Fried gets a demo of Bing's new mapping abilities, including 3D bird's-eye overviews and a virtual drive-by.
[ Music ] >>I'm Ina Fried with CNET news here in San Francisco where Microsoft today showed some new search equipment, particularly on the mapping side. I'm here with Blaise Aguera y Arcas, one of the architects with MSN and Bing maps. And I was hoping you could kind of explain a little bit about what you guys added today and then also show us. >>Blaise: Sure, happy too. So what we've done with Bing maps is we've released a new silver light powered site that is much richer than the Ajax powered site and is really designed to both highlight a bunch of the new types of imagery that we've been collecting and also provide an ecosystem or a canvas on which you can do all sorts of new things beyond just driving directions and search. So if I've got San Francisco on the screen now so this is silver light powered so we've been given just the regular sort of zooming and power, this is just a lot more fluid than it is with an Ajax site. And as we zoom in, we're in AutoMode right now which means that the site will change dramatically as I zoom. So it's changed dramatically to what we've been calling enhanced birds eye which is this synthetic 45 degree view of cities based on 3D models and oblique imagery. >>Ina: So this isn't one image but rather a composite of lots of images that you guys have? >>Blaise: Exactly. We've taken lots of images and draped them and combined them over 3D models and we've got this SIM City like view. And there are four of them so this is looking obliquely facing north and I can make this continuous transition to you know looking west, looking south, look east. So this is this synthetic enhanced bird's eye. If we zoom in closer, notice that there was another transition that we just saw and what we've just done is we've now transitioned to the original bird's eye image so we wanted to make sure that we provided a way to get all the way down to the source imagery. You also get the maximum possible resolution. There's no degradation. Most of this 3D information is sort of behind so you can see how roads turn dotted as they go behind buildings. That's because we do know a lot of 3D information about what's actually on the ground under these images but you're looking at a real image. So as I move from one image to the next, if you watch closely you'll see how we do this kind of photosynth like morph from one image to another. This is now not the SIM City view, right, this is just the original bird's eye images so each of those taken from a slightly different perspective and we have those, of course, north, west, east, south. >>Ina: And then one of the coolest things that happens when you zoom in even further >>Blaise: Right, right so if we keep going we have this capture so let me move to someplace cool so I don't know like City Hall, City Hall is fun. So we're now having this synthetic birds eye view around City Hall. If I click on the little blue guy, we get casings around roads that we've driven. And if I click then I get this transition down into a human scale. So this is street side imagery >>Ina: And so for those who don't know, this is basically what you would see if you were walking or driving right in front of city hall. >>Blaise: Exactly. This imagery is captured with a camera mounted on top of the car. So notice that we're looking right now at a panoramic image but it's not just a panoramic image. There's a lot of 3D knowledge behind this. So if I click on the ground just ahead of us then you'll see this transition as I move down the street that really uses all of that 3D knowledge up the street as we go. So you know right to the point I can do things like clicking on a facade so if I hover over here you can see where the facade is, clicking on it brings me right to that point of view and transitions to that panoramic image looking in that direction. So that's sort of three levels of imagery, human scale, this synthetic oblique imagery and the original oblique birds eye images. The other source of imagery that's really cool that we've integrated in this release is photosynth. So we don't think that we can get everything of interest in the world by flying planes and you know driving cars down the road so its really interesting to us to think about how you crowd source that imagery as well, that was part of the vision of photosynth when we launched it in August of last year. >>Ina: Photosynth, for those of you who don't know, is a product that lets someone create a virtual 3D image from tons and tons of still 2D pictures that they might take with their camera or even cell phone. >>Blaise: Exactly >>Ina: And so now you guys are using those photosynth and integrating them with the mapping product. >>Blaise: Exactly, exactly. If you take a photosynth you can give it a geo location and so I'm gonna search for the Met, New York and that will fly us into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and that's gonna, let me get this entity over there as well, so here's the Met in that synthetic birds eye. If I click on the human skill button, the thing to notice is not only do I get these blue casings around roads but I also get these little green bubbles which represents synth that lots of different users have taken in this environment. So there are a bunch of users here. I especially like the synth that [inaudible] has taken in the map so I can dive right into that synth from the map and so this especially a big synth, it's more 1,000 images and so he took those into the museum and that's just showing you the orientation of the synth throughout the map. So this is his photos reconstructed in 3D >>Ina: So now we're inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and whereas everything else we've shown before is imagery that Microsoft has acquired, this is something that an individual user has done of the Greek and Roman art section of the map. >>Blaise: Exactly and if we click on this overhead view you can really see how just from those images alone we're able to get this pretty amazing 3D reconstruction of this whole wing of the Met. As I move around, as I move the mouse around I can see what photos he took in which product so if I click over here, say we'll dive into that model and look at that particular one. We don't think that we're able to do everything that there is to be done with maps. We really see maps not as an application itself but as a canvas and even the simple stuff like directions and search are actually implemented under the hood just as apps on this map canvas. So today what we've released is the first steps toward making that ecosystem, there's already an app gallery in there that's got a dozen or a couple dozen apps that we've developed in house with close partners and that ecosystem is what one that will be opening up over the next short while. >>Ina: Can you show us what that app gallery looks like and then what some of the apps are that people have done? >>Blaise: Of course, so if you click on this little greater than sign, you get the app gallery of the stuff that we're releasing right away. So this is an example of one that was literally written on a week end by one of our app techs. This is today's front pages which uses a feed from the museum, which is a non for profit that archives front pages from newspapers all over the world so this is, the coverage is not just U.S. It's from newspapers all over the world. And as I hover over a lot of these you can see you get this sort of nice flippy 3D view of what those newspaper front pages look like and see what today's news was all over the world and you can quick through to the original on the museum site. So that's an example of a third party feed surfacing in the map. >>Ina: One of the other applications you've shown today was an application with Twitter that sits on top of a map. What does that allow and I imagine this builds on the new geo tagging feature within Twitter. >>That's right and it's cool that we can do this on such short notice. This geo tagging feature is only a couple weeks old but that's right so we collaborated with Twitter to make a Twitter app in the art gallery. And what that does is it surfaces on the map all of the geo located tweets and here for the view and you can explore those or you can browse images. You can of course think back to all the original users and all the other posts and so on. >>Ina: And these aren't your friend's necessarily. This is abroad, everyone on Twitter. >>Blaise: Right, right, this is everyone. These are all Tweets. Many of these are extremely recent. This one is 24 minutes ago over here. This is a digital event. It's always dangerous to pull up user generated stuff, of course you don't know what you're gonna get but you know you can filter, this gives you the ability to refine your results so let's try something relatively innocent like coffee. And yes we've got a bunch of coffee tweets just from very recently. >>Ina: And are these different changes that went live on, these are live today >>Blaise: That's right >>Ina: And people basically just need a browser and the silver light extension, is that correct? >>Blaise: Exactly, which works on PC's and Macs and this is designed to be very cross platform, cross browser. >>Ina: Great, thanks Blaise. For CNET news I'm Ina Fried. [music]