Recently I was contacted by Chinese company City8 that claimed to have streetview imagery for thirty Chinese cities (including Beijing). Unable to read their site but, being very impressed with their demo video and their full-screen imagery I asked them to answer some questions. The results of the interview are below.
Where is City8 based?
City8 is based in Shanghai, China, with its predecessor Easypano holdings Inc. Founded in November 2001, Easypano has been developing and marketing virtual tour software and solutions, which enable individuals and companies to produce colorful and attractive VR contents of their own. We started City8.com in 2006, beginning with only one capturing car. But now we have had a fleet working all over the country.
What is City8′s business model?
We concentrate on local business and provide our service to increase their exposure. We capture both inside and outside of the business and charge according to the effect. We have just started this business model but the signed customers are increasing rapidly. Because China is a vast country, we only focus on the large cities and leave small cities to franchising.
Who funds City8?
Easypano holdings Inc built City8.com. Seaman Yu is the CEO of Easypano. He graduated from Xi’an Jiaotong University with master’s degree. In 2001, he started Easypano Inc. with 4 partners. Easypano mainly develop and market panorama stiching software and virtual tour software. With 5 years’ experience in Panoramic software and virtual tour software, we moved on to provide a 360°streetview service in 2006.
How was the data collected? What technology was used?
At first we tried Ladybug2 from PTgrey. But the result is far from satisfaction. So we cooperated with some elite in hardware and customize our own equipment. Just like DIY, with better lens, higher resolution CCD and some circuit board. We put it on top of a car and capture while driving. We’ve one laptop to control the equipment and mornitor the result in real time. We coulde setup it to snap in certain interval of time or distance.As to the programming, it’s always our strength.
Who supplies the base map data?
We signed a contract with autonavi and use its map service from mapabc.com. Mapabc also provides its map data to google map in China.
Is there an API to access City8 data?
When will the English version be released?
We hope to release it before Olympic Games. It’s a little urgent but we are going to work hard.
City8 reminds me of Mapjack’s interaction model for their white-label streetview imagery service. It’s also interesting to note that City8 is getting their data from AutoNavi the same company that is supplying Live Maps in China (Radar post). They are definitely a part of the Olympics boom in China (just like this mapping kiosk I found in Beijing last fall). Anyone know of any others?
The City8 demo video: