TechCrunch has been providing some great coverage of the upcoming crop of Google StreetView competitors. After covering Everyscape, they now have a preview of Earthmine, which lets you annotate content inside its street views.
(For some reason, all these services use San Francisco as their prototype/demo:-)
Note, too, that the company providing the technology and content for Google’s StreetView until now, Immersive Media, has announced it will no longer be providing Google with content after the end of the year. Meanwhile, Google is arranging to acquire its own content. Emad Fanous speculates the reason for the split-up is licensing issues. Specifically, Google wants to incorporate the imagery into their Google Maps API (or some other unspecified API).
And why might Google want to do that? Well, just look at what Everyscape and Earthmine are up to.
I do think the winner in this, however, will be whoever manages to open up their API the most. Who will let me embed on iMyFacePressType a guided tour of my walk up Fifth Avenue, annotated with what I bought on the sides of the buildings where I bought it? Or will the mooted Google MyWorld let you do something like that? Perhaps using SketchUp models, so you can annotate favorite art in museums or the locations of employees’ offices at HQ? (Or not?)
Google’s secret of its success in the mapping world has been to be as welcoming as possible to user-generated content, both by removing all barriers to contributing and by providing the best possible background canvas on which to display the content. Until now, panorama views of specific locations in Google Earth have been provided by third parties such as Gigapxl, Gigapan and 360Cities. But with the advent of Earthmine, such content is becoming part of the annotatable canvas.
If systematically created panoramas as part of the annotatable canvas are the future, will user-generated or third-party content still be able to compete? It will if future versions of KML allow us to pinpoint placemarks within panoramas, link between panoramas, and connect such in-panorama placemarks to geographic locations on the base map.
In the long run, of course, we’d just want to be able to paint panoramas onto a very accurate 3D rendering of the world, so that every spot in the panorama and its corresponding coordinate on Earth become one. And while this is technically a complicated feat, the best stab at this I’ve seen is Microsoft’s impressive PhotoSynth.
In the very long run, of course, we’re all dead. Pardon this meandering post:-)