Microsoft has recently added 3D navigation to Virtual Earth (http://maps.live.com). Users can navigate inside a virtual representation of real world places – a bit like playing a flight simulator. Check out the image below of Baltimore, MD:
The attention to detail is truly stunning (the above picture doesn’t do the service justice), the clock tower and neighboring Holiday Inn, pictured above, is just as in the real thing. With this application I can explore the whole town in detail and get a really good feel for the geographic layout of the area.
3D requires that users install a component on their PC (this sort of imaging is a little difficult using native web technologies), and to use Internet Explorer 6 or 7 – so Apple users are SOL for the time being.
With the navigation control you can view cities and streets from different heights and angles. Latitude, longitude, and altitude appear in the lower-left status bar of the browser window. A scale bar in the lower-right corner of the map indicates the distance from your viewing point to the objects below you.
- You must use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or Windows Internet Explorer 7 to view 3D maps.
- Three-dimensional data is available for the whole world. However, 3D buildings are not available for every city.
- Virtual Earth 3D looks best if your screen resolution is 1024 x 768 or higher.
- The altitude is determined by using the location of the mouse pointer.
Let’s see Google trump this!