Location, Location, Location

estate agents explain that the three most important features of any apartment is location, location, location. The Internet made the world a small place, ubiquitous, the entire world shrunken to the size of a dot at the end of a mouse cursor. Well, that really doesn’t work that well for us. We live local. We interact with local businesses. We have local friends. We speak local languages and eat local food.

There is no wonder, then, that we see so many geographical services popping about. The virtual world is changing again. It is no longer a dot. It is expanding to contain the physical world.

Our Images Interact

I’m fondly following Microsoft’s image registration technology for a few years, since the first demo of Photosynth. You can try this demo (requires Silverlight):

Photosynth has the ability to analyze photos and register them into a three-dimensional model of the location, which you can then navigate through images. Take a look at the demo, to get the notion of what I’m talking about. This is a new way of interacting with imagery. Today Photosynth is limited to demos and small locations, due to copyright issues. What they really wanted to do is take all the images on the web and register them into the three dimensional model of the world they are gathering.
Imagine going to the Empire State Building, pointing your iPhone at it and seeing pictures taken by other people, sharing notes, and adding your own pictures into this global pool.

Reality Augmented

Microsoft is trying to beat Google Maps for a long while now, but the service really wasn’t much more than a me-too, with a slick UI. Live Maps wasn’t as fast and snappy as Google Maps, and frankly, it was integrated with the wrong search engine. Live never really took off.

Bing, however, is a different story. Steve Ballmer knows why Bing is better. And it is gaining some serious traction. Statistics show Bing is at 10.7% of the search market share – and growing. If it keeps this up, I may have to actually test this search engine and see what it’s all about.

Bottom line is – after many faulty starts, Microsoft has now taken a serious swing at Google. They are combining all their imagery projects together to create a very interesting experience. Enter Bing Maps. Watch this eight minute demonstration of Bing Maps given at TEDActive this week. I literly heard a Klang as my jaw hit the floor.

Playing around with Google Maps and hearing about Google Goggles, I must admit the race is very tight. Microsoft may actually be one step ahead in the technological field, for the time being, but their execution still needs work.