Have you seen these new 3D city maps from Nokia’s Ovi Maps service? They’re pretty amazing.
20 global cities have been recreated in astonishing photorealistic 3D. These are not satellite images, nor are they traditional maps. They’re something different.
Nokia didn’t do all the work in-house. They bought the technology from Swedish image technology company C3. They build their 3D models from extremely high-res photography combined with great geographical precision. The exact position of every pixel photographed is worked out by C3’s flying eye in-a-box.
The kit is small enough (and smart enough) to be fitted to pretty much any aircraft you can think of. That makes it easy to contract out the aerial survey work to third parties, and concentrate on crunching the data back at HQ.
You don’t have to have a Nokia phone to try it out. Run along to maps.ovi.com/3d and you can play with it yourself (note: you’ll probably be asked to install a browser plug-in first).
I just took a tour of New York and the imagery really is pretty good. It only takes you so far, though, without the slick all-the-way-down-to-the-ground zooming that you get in Google Maps. Then again, this is just a beta phase. More cities, and more of the stuff that lies between them, are hopefully on the way.