Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Video Driving Directions

Virtual Highway

New Zealand Transport Authority seem to have stolen a march on Google Maps and Bing Maps in the release of Virtual Highway. Virtual Highway provides video footage of key travel routes and maps of the New Zealand state highway network.

Google has applied for a European patent that includes "full-motion video of 360 degrees images, and live feeds from video cameras to provide enhanced driving directions". This seems to suggest that Google has plans for a Street View feature that includes panoramic video. This may possibly be in partnership with Immersive Media, who were involved in the development of Google Maps Street View.

Immersive Media are pioneers in the development of interactive panoramic videos that could easily be used in conjunction with Google Maps to provide driving directions with interactive video.

Microsoft are also working on video driving directions technology for Bing Maps. You can see a preview of their research into video driving directions in this video:



Both Microsoft and Google seem to be working on the idea of using interactive panoramic videos for their video driving directions. Virtual Highway however have just gone ahead and developed a system of driving directions enhanced with non-panoramic video.

Virtual Highway use video footage of requested routes so that users can watch their journey before actually setting out. As the video plays the corresponding location is shown on a moving Google Map. The user can even choose between four different types of maps to view.

Virtual Highway's use of video and Google Maps allows the user to see the road and surrounding area as well as determine their location on the accompanying map. Virtual Highway believe that this encourages safety by helping users get to know the road in advance of a journey.

I think it could be time for Google and Microsoft to put the pedal to the metal on their video driving direction plans.

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