Virtual Earth: Birds-Eye in 3D

Virtual Earth is going to be releasing an update soon and they’ve published a preview on their blog. The low-res movie above shows Bird-Eye in 3D. They’re using aerial imagery (Birds Eye) taken from 4 different angles and, like Live Labs Photosynth (Radar post), they have stitched them together to create a 3D world (only available on Windows). They give a brief description of the work that they put into it:

For background, its important to understand the challenges of visualizing our Birds eye imagery in a seamless mosaic the way we are all used to looking at satellite imagery that looks straight down at earth. Since all of the images are shot from the same point of view, it’s relatively easy to stitch them together in a convincing tapestry. There’s still challenges like doing good color balancing across images and rectifying so that buildings in tall cities don’t appear to butt heads, but these are pretty well understood problems. Birds eye images are a different story. because of the way they are captured, there is no easy way to stitch them at their edges without introducing nasty distortions. The result is that Birds eye imagery is viewed as discrete ‘scenes’ instead of 1 giant tapestry. when you navigate to the edge of the current scene, the most appropriate next scene is dynamically determined, then displayed. Since Birds eye imagery is captured from 4 angles, we have North, South, East and west views of each point on earth adding another dimension of complexity to navigation.

I’ll be talking with Erik Jorgensen, GM of Virtual Earth, at Web 2.0 Summit about their new release and their future plans.

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