Microsoft has revealed a new, more comprehensive street view system, dubbed Street Slide, set to compete with Google's Street View and Bing Maps' Streetside.
According to Microsoft , the Google and Bing systems only allow users to view city streets via an immersive 360-degree panorama or "bubble." And users can travel down the street only by jumping from one bubble to another, creating pixelated images of close-ups and making it impossible to view a whole city block at one time. But Street Slide uses what Microsoft calls "multi-perspective strip panoramas," combining "bubbles" with panoramas.
"We demonstrate a seamless transition between bubbles and multi-perspective panoramas. We also present a dynamic construction of the panoramas which overcomes many of the limitations of previous systems. As the user slides sideways, the multi-perspective panorama is constructed and rendered dynamically to simulate either a perspective or hyper-perspective view," Microsoft posted on its research Web page .
"Our goal in constructing the Street Slide application is to provide a seamless means to explore the details of individual bubbles while also being able to navigate efficiently and intuitively along the streets," Microsoft's researchers wrote. "Our solution consists of a hybrid between a traditional pan and zoom interface within a bubble for small fields of view and a multi-perspective panorama for wider views of the street side. As the user’s field of view within a single bubble widens to a threshold, we lock the apparent field of view and instead simulate dollying backwards by combining imagery from nearby bubbles to form a multi-perspective panorama."
[youtube]K-_T949uSwU[/youtube]A user study found that Street Slide provides a better visual searching experience than Google Street View and Bing Maps Streetside, according to Microsoft. Users were able to find nearby landmarks more quickly than the Google and Bing systems. And while some test subjects found Street Slide confusing initially, they found it easier after a minute, compared to finding Google Street View easy at first and later becoming frustrated by the system, according to Microsoft.
The new system also opens the door to online advertising in the spaces above and below the street image, which also explicitly displays the street name and address numbers. By clicking on the address number, users can zoom into the building at that address.
Microsoft has processed some 2,400 panoramas that cover four kilometers on six streets and eight intersections and the company has begun to implement the new system on a mobile platform.