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Microsoft's 'Street Slide' takes aim at StreetView

A new mapping technology from Microsoft's Research team takes the idea of a panoramic street view and stitches it together into one long stream of map tiles.

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Google's StreetView technology, which is embedded into the Google Maps product on the browser, and on mobile phones like the iPhone and Android, has long wowed users with its option to view the road inside a 360-degree panorama. But Microsoft Research's latest effort, which is being unveiled at this week's Siggraph computer graphics conference, approaches viewing streets from a different direction. Literally.

Instead of having users venture from one "bubble" of captured imagery to the next, as is done in Google's StreetView and Microsoft's Streetside, the new technology, called "Street Slide," stitches together multiple panoramas into one, large strip that users are able to scroll through side to side. And in place of putting information overlays on the imagery itself, things like street signs and business information are placed below, and out of sight of what was captured.

The end result is something that lets users skim around long stretches of street, as if they were looking out the window of a moving vehicle, then stopping to get out and look around, once they've reached any one particular spot within the series. This obviously works better for long, straight roads, but in large cities and even small towns where a main avenue is prevalent, it can create a browsing experience that is more seamless and that requires less clicking.

Although Microsoft Research is demonstrating the technology at this week's Siggraph show, it has not yet announced if and when it will be making it to the Bing Maps, or any other map-embedded Microsoft products or services. In the meantime, you can see a quick demo of how it works in the video below: