Microsoft’s Erik Jorgensen gave a really well-received talk today at the Where 2.0 conference. During it he announced the arrival of Virtual Earth’s largest data dump yet with 11.5 terabytes of compressed imagery. It included New York City (see above) and 20+ other cities. It also included a huge amount of aerial (not satellite) imagery for a lot of Europe. The Virtual Earth blog has the complete list of new content — including the data provider. They now have 80% of the US population covered with 3D imagery.
Erik affirmed his belief in the 3D web stating that Microsoft felt it had to move up the foodchain to complete its vision. Thus they bought Vexcel (Radar post) over a year ago to leverage its remote sensors. They have started to model Rome and it only took them 3 weeks to do it. Erik also showed us the sensor-generated interior of a library. The detail was amazing. There were also many mentions of leveraging their data through partnerships and opening it up for long-tail applications.
This was a great message and it was really well received on the Where20 IRC channel. However, Microsoft’s 3D web is not cross-platform and can not be brought up on many of their browsers. As I was telling an MS exec yesterday I think that although 80-90% of their traffic is Windows/IE that the rest of the web isn’t (especially amongst developers) and no web developer wants to have to think about cross-platform issues for their potential audience. Erik, VE Team we implore you! Make your awesome 3D cities cross-platform so that those of on Macs and Linux can use it. Perhaps with Silverlight? Trust me, you will gain developers.
[Thanks to Chris Schmidt for transcribing this talk]
Microsoft just sent me some screenshots of their 3D interior visualizations:
And a visualization of some work done with their MapCruncher Toolkit: