We sublet some office space to a company called Informap UK – they are currently building a photo-realistic 3D model of central London. I have seen some early samples from work they have done in other countries and it is very impressive. You can walk/drive through a city and get ultra cool imagery down to quite small detail such as signage. It is a leap beyond the current quality available on Google Earth or Microsoft Local and I suspect that there are other people also trying to get into this space including Pictometry, A9 (now deceased) etc etc but what is the point?
There is a significant investment going into building these 3D experiences and linking to other real world attributes. I am a flat maps person so maybe I just don’t get it but I am struggling to understand who are the customers for this kiund of capability and what business models will support them.
A hunch – watch out for Autodesk. They have done 3D for a long time and with their big investments in animation and special effects technology for the movie industry they could become a big player in the delivery end of this new market.