If you have used Microsoft’s Bing Maps lately you are probably familiar with the Street Side feature that enables you to navigate in first person view through the street of many US cities (similar to Google’s Street View). Microsoft Research isn’t totally happy about the user experience, especially the way the users has to jump from one bubble to another when trying to navigate through a city and is now currently working on a new technology called Street Slide:
Systems such as Google Street View and Bing Maps Streetside enable users to virtually visit cities by navigating between immersive 360° panoramas, or bubbles. The discrete moves from bubble to bubble enabled in these systems do not provide a good visual sense of a larger aggregate such as a whole city block. Multi-perspective “strip” panoramas can provide a visual summary of a city street but lack the full realism of immersive panoramas.
We present Street Slide, which combines the best aspects of the immersive nature of bubbles with the overview provided by multi-perspective strip 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. This provides a strong sense of parallax, which adds to the immersion. We call this form of sliding sideways while looking at a street facade a street slide. Finally we integrate annotations and a mini-map within the user interface to provide geographic information as well additional affordances for navigation. We demonstrate our Street Slide system on a series of intersecting streets in an urban setting. We report the results of a user study, which shows that visual searching is greatly enhanced with the Street Slide interface over existing systems from Google and Bing.
Street Slide is currently being presented at Siggraph 2010 so don’t expect to see it hit Bing Maps before 2011 at the earliest (is has been ported to the iPhone as seenin the picture below).
Microsoft Research in collaboration with Universität Darmstadt is also working on improving the Photosynth navigation with a new Ambient Point Clouds for View Interpolation to improve the transitions effect when navigating from one picture to another:
View interpolation and image-based rendering algorithms often produce visual artifacts in regions where the 3D scene geometry is erroneous, uncertain, or incomplete. We introduce ambient point clouds constructed from colored pixels with uncertain depth, which help reduce these artifacts while providing non-photorealistic background coloring and emphasizing reconstructed 3D geometry. Ambient point clouds are created by randomly sampling colored points along the viewing rays associated with uncertain pixels. Our real-time rendering system combines these with more traditional rigid 3D point clouds and colored surface meshes obtained using multi-view stereo. Our resulting system can handle larger-range view transitions with fewer visible artifacts than previous approaches.
Similar to Street Slide this new technology is being presented at Siggraph 2010 and probably won’t be added to Photosynth before the end of 2011.