Name one person you know who has a smart phone and has never used Google Maps? Nearly impossible, huh? That probably has something to do with it being one of the best apps you can install on a smart phone. Well, leave it to Microsoft to take something awesome and attempt to make it better. On July 23rd 2010 a video appeared debuting Microsoft’s new maps program code named “Street Slide”.
“Systems such as Google Street View and Bing Maps Streetside enable users to virtually visit cities by navigating between immersive 360 panoramas, or bubbles. The discrete moves from bubble to bubble enabled in these systems do not provide a good visual sense of a larger aggregate such as a whole city block. Multi-perspective “strip” panoramas can provide a visual summary of a city street but lack the full realism of immersive panoramas.
“We present Street Slide, which combines the best aspects of the immersive nature of bubbles with the overview provided by multi-perspective strip panoramas. We demonstrate a seamless transition between bubbles and multi-perspective panoramas. We also present a dynamic construction of the panoramas which overcomes many of the limitations of previous systems. As the user slides sideways, the multi-perspective panorama is constructed and rendered dynamically to simulate either a perspective or hyper-perspective view. This provides a strong sense of parallax, which adds to the immersion. We call this form of sliding sideways while looking at a street facade a street slide. Finally we integrate annotations and a mini-map within the user interface to provide geographic information as well additional affordances for navigation. We demonstrate our Street Slide system on a series of intersecting streets in an urban setting. We report the results of a user study, which shows that visual searching is greatly enhanced with the Street Slide interface over existing systems from Google and Bing.”
In case you didn’t feel like reading that quote I’ll explain it in laments terms. Google street view allows you to have a street level view of an area, and it looks amazing, but if you want to look further down the street and you zoom in the resolution gets really bad and it’s hard to make out what you’re looking at. Because of that you have to move you bubble further down the street to compensate for the distortion. Microsoft resolves this problem by allowing you to zoom out on the street from an eye level perspective and “slide” down the street until you get where you need to be. A quick zoom in will put you back into the 360° view you were originally in. This “maps feature” won’t be out anytime soon but is already being test ported to the iPhone and will surely make an appearance on the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform. SEXY!
Check out the video, It’s definitely worth a look!