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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Billboards in Virtual Earth

Microsoft has come out with a update to Virtual Earth that makes it look more like Google Earth. Most interesting is that this system shows true 3-D images of city landscapes, including the sides of buildings. Unlike Google Earth which shows buildings with blank grey sides. The result is a more realistic view of city scapes. Its incredible how much data would be required to paint a city. Mapped with low-flying airplanes?

AdAge points out that Microsoft can add floating billboards, and they have already sold space to several companies. There are several floating over San Francisco for ZipRealty (above). Its more of a fun thing to find rather than a easily seen ad. How different is this from billboards in Second Life? .... here it is aligned to a real geographical space. In the US VE uses identical satellite 2D image databases to GE. In Europe, VE appears to be using less detailed image databases, based on my small sample of locations. London shows its 'eye' impressively in 3D, but not much else.

They are still gathering data: "... The 3-D models will initially be available for 15 U.S. cities--San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Boston; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Detroit; Phoenix; Houston; Baltimore; Atlanta; Denver; Dallas; and Fort Worth, Texas--and will be expanded at a rate of eight new cities a month until next spring, when that is ratcheted up even more...". Some of these city databases are glaringly incomplete, with skyscrapers missing. Compare it with Google Earth's 3D images. VE is entirely a web app, and is still a beta. Update: Its much slower than Google Earth too.

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