If you didn’t already notice, Bing is breaking new ground when it has come to online mapping. In 56 metro areas Bing Maps is introducing “Street Side”. This new technology features immersive street-level photography and allows users to “walk down the street” and explore neighborhoods and cities. Unlike other online mapping services Bing “Street Side” is extremely “rich”, bringing online mapping into a new reality. Microsoft is also utilizing its 3D mapping assets, Photosynth and Silverlight in creating this new experience. Here is how the Microsoft press release describes the technology behind the new map experience:
Photosynth and Silverlight are the underlying technologies in Bing Maps that connect everything and help provide the more seamless experience. Based on Seadragon and Photo Tourism concepts, Photosynth lets us literally “stitch” together photographs to provide a more realistic view of locations as they appear in real life. Photosynth-enabled Streetside imagery is built on geometric models that are reconstructed underneath the imagery to provide a truly 3D experience that shows locations as they are in real life.
The one “catch” is that you need to install Microsoft Silverlight to make it all work. (It only takes a few seconds to download) But once installed at the Bing Maps beta site you are now enabled into a wide range of experiences including search and discovery tools such as planning and sharing multistep itineraries, navigating streets at eye level and experience beautiful photographic scenes.
Additionally this new “apps gallery“ enables data overlays directly onto the map. Currently all of the apps are Microsoft created but in the near future third parties will be able to integrate such as Yelp reviews and Twitter postings, along with a mobile device version.