VIDEO: Microsoft Street Slide - breaking out of the bubble
The boffins over at Microsoft Research have taken the street-view idea within Google (and Bing, we suppose) Maps and developed a new perspective to street-level data.
Rather than being trapped within a bubble perspective, where you can only view clearly what's in your circumference, before travelling along to the next bubble, the Microsoft prototype shows off a zooming out function, where you can see the street your viewing on a panoramic level.
Street Slide lets you get a better perspective of a street's layout and makes it easier, and quicker, to navigate along a chosen path - whilst taking in more detail than is possible with the bubble mode.
Because the view becomes narrow when zoomed out, there are black spaces that appear at the top and bottom. Microsoft's idea is to fill these areas with store-front logos and address details - again making it easier to see exactly where you (virtually) are.
The research paper, which you can read in its entirety in PDF form, mentions that only "2400 panoramas covering about 4 kilometres on 6 streets with 8 intersections" has been covered so far, but that the plan is "integrating our viewer into a larger database containing millions of bubbles of street level imagery".
This is the first major development within street data technology that we've been genuinely impressed with since we picked our jaw up off of the floor after seeing Google's street-view.
We can imagine this setup being particularly useful on a wide screen smartphone, when trying to find somewhere specific. And the good news is that Microsoft Research is already working on porting the software to the iPhone.
Are you as impressed as we are? Let us know what you think of Street Slider using the feedback feature below.