352 Inc. / Technology / December 4th, 2009

Silverlight – Bing Map Application

I’m a huge fan of virtual map applications.  Each step in their evolution has been a mind blowing experience for me. Real satellite images were just the beginning.  Once I discovered I could tweak Google Earth to jack up the elevation I just had to tour the Grand Canyon and sit on the edge of a volcano in Costa Rica.  Then Google Earth turned itself on its head and showed us the skies in a similar fashion.  Zooming in on a galaxy millions of light years away is actually way cooler than seeing the top of my house all grainy and pixelated.  Right when I started to be bored, along comes street view and I can now view my house as if I’m standing right in front of it.  Kind of creepy but also quite amazing and useful for the last leg of a trip.  Microsoft has now uped the ante.  Using Silverlight, Microsoft’s new bing map application runs in the browser (PC and Mac) and feels much lighter than current ajax based mapping applications.  This is due in part to the deep zoom and photosynth technology they have developed.  Instead of just having an aerial view or street view of the map, a perspective based presentation is achieved by combining multiple views of every location.  Whether you are facing North/East/South or West it looks like you are hovering around the area in a helicopter.  The buildings have an actual 3 dimensional feel to them. That’s just the beginning. The new “Streedside” feature kicks “Street View” to the curb.  Couldn’t resist the pun.  Here is where photosynth’s technology really shines.  Using the smorgasbord of images the — I guess we should call them bing map cars — are able to amass a virtual 3D street comes to life.  You are no longer standing in the middle of the street with your head on a swivel.  No, now you are literally walking around the street in almost real time getting a feel for the size, dimension and perspective of what’s around you.  Standing in front of the Capital Building I felt like I was playing Modern Warefare 2 ready to duck for cover and reload my gun.  For this feature you’re just going to have to check it out.  I’m an Apple guy and when I get excited about Microsoft technology it’s a big deal.  Couple this new application with user generated content (user’s photosynth shows can be linked to specific locations where the pictures were taken) and one day soon you’ll literally be able to visit just about anywhere from the comfort of your own home.  Ok that’s a little bold but it will certainly enhance how we find our way around this crazy planet. This is good news for 352 Media as well.  We have already developed a number of applications using sliverlight and will continue to do so. Applications like this not only showcases the power of Sliverlight but will also help to increase the penetration of Sliverlight in people’s browsers so it becomes as ubiquitous as flash. See for yourself:      

  • https://www.352inc.com/ PeterV – CMO

    I’ve always used bing for the bird’s eye view, when I want to see my destination in perspective, but then google for streetview when I need to see what the building looks like so I can find it. I love that this not only brings the two together, but the experience (transitions, etc) is just so much slicker! I guess I need to make a photosynth of my yard now to get in on the crowdsourcing. And you’re right about the lightness of the app. I scrolled out on my mouse wheel as I normally would in a map and was staring at the entire earth in about one second. I guess this is a little more sensitive as well!