Microsoft Corp. today announced U.S. availability of Virtual Earth™ 3D, a new online mapping interface that is part of the Live Search offering, providing consumers with a three-dimensional experience to search, browse and explore the real world online.
When people visit Live Search (http://live.com), type a query into the search bar and click on the “maps” tab, they get their search results in a map context that offers the option to explore the area using two-dimensional views (aerial and bird’s-eye) or three dimensional models with Virtual Earth 3D. This new technology compiles photographic images of cities and terrain to generate textured, photorealistic 3-D models with engineering level accuracy.
Three-dimensional models are available initially for 15 U.S. cities: San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Fort Worth. Terrain imagery in 3-D is available globally, and Microsoft expects to offer 3-D imagery in an ever expanding set of cities. Other features provided by Live Search include access to real-time traffic information in select major U.S. cities, and access to business listings “yellow pages” and people listings “white pages” that allows consumers to easily find local information and act on it.
The shareholders will also be relieved by this part:
Advertisements will be available within the Virtual Earth 3D experience. Similar to billboards on the side of roads, virtual billboards will be available throughout Live Search in the 3-D view. The ads available within the Virtual Earth 3D experience are created using a combination of technologies from Virtual Earth, Massive Inc. technology, and the advertising platform from Microsoft® Digital Advertising Solutions.
I guess I’d have to see one, but it’s the thought of monetization that counts.
The press release also mentions that Virtual Earth APIs are available at no cost for use by Web developers – there are more technical details at the Windows Live Dev blog.