Microsoft GeoSynth to take on Google Street View

Microsoft plans to take on Google's Street View mapping feature with its own public-led offering, Pocket-lint has learnt.

Although not due to be launched until later in the year, the company is planning on giving the public the chance to capture any location in HD with a merging of a yet to be announced application and its Virtual Earth mapping service.

Called GeoSynth, the service will be based on the company's PhotoSynth technology and takes into account geographical data within images.

Users will be able to upload geotagged images into a central database to help build detailed larger images of a given landmark in a similar way to how the company's PhotoSynth software works.

"The system would take the best images from a location to create a single image of a specific landmark very much in the same way Microsoft did with the Obama Inauguration", Johannes Kebeck a Virtual Earth technology specialist at Microsoft EMEA told us.

"We couldn't guarantee that all images would be used, but you could create a very good image of a given landmark like Piccadilly Circus for example from thousands of images".

The yet to be announced GeoSynth technology could, following the announcement this week at Microsoft's Mix 09 event in Las Vegas, be connected into Microsoft's Virtual Earth service allowing you to get a "street view" of anywhere on the planet.

Microsoft announced at its annual conference that its Virtual Earth service would be supporting Silverlight in beta this summer, with an official launch expected by the end of the year.

Microsoft is hoping the inclusion of their Silverlight technology, which is currently on 25% of PCs connected to the Internet according to Microsoft, will improve user interactions with the mapping service, making it loads quicker, as well as being more graphically friendly.

Promising a massive increase in performance, Microsoft says the use of Silverlight will mean users will be able to access map tiles 9x faster in its IE8 browser and 5x faster in Google's Chrome browser.

Users will be able to pan across the maps faster, as well as being able to zoom in a similar way to the company's DeepZoom application found on sites like iriscool and Memorabilia.hardrock.com.

Merging the two technologies (GeoSynth and Virtual Earth) within the same browser experience would create a more seamless interface between the two, agrees Kebeck, following Pocket-lint's suggestion to let people create their own geotagged image collections. Users would then be able to view the whole city rather than just images of roads captured from a car.

"You can already use PhotoSynth in Virtual Earth, but with both using Silverlight a more seamless integration would be very easy", confirmed Kebeck.