March 27, 2006
Take a Ride with Microsoft Live Local “Street-side”
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Message from the Editor -
Welcome to GISWeekly! On February 28, Microsoft released a Technical Preview of 'Street-side', a new feature Microsoft is building for its Windows Live Local consumer local search and mapping site (powered by Virtual Earth). The technical preview, according to Angela Morrow, product manager for the consumer side of Windows Live Local, said that Street-side is not in the Live Local product today, but will probably debut later this summer. Read about this technology in this week's Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Take a Ride with Microsoft Live Local “Street-side”
by Susan Smith
On February 28, Microsoft released a Technical Preview of 'Street-side', a new feature Microsoft is building for its Windows Live Local consumer local search and mapping site (powered by Virtual Earth). The technical preview, according to Angela Morrow, product manager for the consumer side of Windows Live Local, said that Street-side is not in the Live Local product today, but will probably debut later this summer.
With Street-side, Microsoft is offering another perspective. So far Live Local has had current road, aerial, and bird's eye view to immerse viewers in. Street-side will place them right there in a panoramic view of the street so that users can see exactly what's on each street corner at street level, perhaps what the street address they're looking for actually looks like, before they get there.
Street-side is still in the beta stages right now and its success will depend largely on feedback from users. San Francisco and Seattle are the two cities that are being used in the beta. A company that has collected the Street-side imagery for Microsoft, Facet Technology Corporation, was in the process of capturing images of San Francisco when Microsoft penned an agreement with them. The area is also very “technically savvy,” according to Morrow, so they could be assured of a good response from the beta community there. Also, Seattle is the home of Microsoft, so it made sense to use it as the other city.
Microsoft Live Local is in the process of driving numerous major cities with Facet so that the imagery can be available in the summer release of the product. Live Local is a consumer product and Morrow foresees users graduating from using just the road view and aerial views to Street-side which is even more immersive, as they get comfortable with the product.
With Street-side, users view a split screen navigation window. In the upper navigation pane, users can view street-level imagery of their destinations. In the lower navigation pane, users can switch between three navigation modes: race car, sports car, and walking. There is an additional option of plugging in an address or business name. A draggable icon can be moved along the map. Arrows allow you to drag the car direction to the left or right and see what is to the sides.
A possible scenario for the use of this product might be: You come to San Francisco (or any city) on business. You log on in your hotel room to find out where your meetings are the next day and to plan your route - stop for coffee, get to each meeting in each building and see with Street-side just what the streets will look like that you'll walk or drive down.
At this juncture, Street-side only includes a two-square-mile area of San Francisco, and four-square-miles of Seattle, although the company has the imagery for the entire cities. The import of this technology is not quite registering with me yet, as, with the exception of making sure you can get your cup of coffee in the morning, you can just as easily take your fistful of addresses and jump into a cab.
If you can't catch a cab or your destination is embarrassingly close: before you leave home, hotel or the airport, you can use Streets, the road view, to find your destination, then switch to satellite or aerial view. To get a closer view of the destination, you can see in birdseye down to the street level. You'll get increasingly immersed as you get closer to the area where you want to go. You'll be able to do a local search to see a storefront with Street-side as well as get driving directions.
If you're coming into the city via car and you want to check out a complicated freeway interchange and see where a particular exit goes and where an intersection might be, you can use the birds-eye view which is a 45 degree angle view from an airplane, then actually see at the street level what that intersection looks like and what landmarks there are around it. This could prove useful with in-car navigation, as long as you had a big enough screen to view it.
The aim of Microsoft is to provide as immersive environment as it can for Live Local users, and one wonders what it will come up with next. Will the user want to print out street level views before embarking on the journey? Will the views augment in-car navigation? Morrow said that there's no excuse to get lost again. Maybe, maybe not, but will all this additional information be useful?
Check it out and see what you think.
Top News of the Week
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