At a recent Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, California, the subject of 3D Mapping was the hot topic of discussion, specifically the so-called 3D Data arms race between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and others Web companies spending fortunes vying to have developers use their platforms for cityscapes.
Much has been written about Google Earth and Google Street View, and the fact that Microsoft’s Virtual Earth 3D has taken a significant lead in 3D imaging of cities, with one million buildings done, including 50,000 in New York City alone.
Though many of these sites are being improved for better access, realism and scale, with graphics going beyond mere terrain to actual buildings and storefronts, it may still take a couple of years before 3D becomes the de facto standard in local search.
Though, as early as now, it is very clear that insertion of location-targeted ads in such sites will become extremely promising in the near future.
One such venue is UpNext (www.UpNext.com), a 3D city guide that offers user ratings and reviews, which is best described as a cross between Yelp and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Like their competitor EveryScape, UpNext belongs to a next-generation cluster of local search sites which are seeking to build more immersive experiences for users.
Rather than sifting through pages and links of data, UpNext enables web browsers to glide around [their] city, virtually. Their virtual rendition of Manhattan is now live, as well as social features that invite users to explore and review the city’s wide assortment of shops, restaurants, and venues in 3D.
Instead of APIs that map sites like Google Maps and Mapquest rely on, the UpNext uses local data, making it more current and flexible. And if their virtual, user-friendly model of Manhattan proves successful, other major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles may be replicated next.
Since recent 3D surveys have shown that the demand for personalized may be hotter than advanced imagery, UpNext is definitely headed in the right direction.