Posted by: crudbasher | November 1, 2011

The Next Generation Of Maps

One of my reoccurring threads I have been commenting on is the technology of Augmented Reality. This is where you can overlay reality with information using a cell phone or, in the future, using eyeglasses. In order to really make this technology practical, you need several things.

  1. Mobile computation power. – The newest cell phones have sufficient computing power to do Augmented Reality.
  2. Tracking technology – A critical part is being able to match the virtual world with the real one. The solution is based on computer vision and is almost ready.
  3. Display technology – the true way to do this is with glasses with see-though displays. That technology isn’t really ready yet but in a few more years someone will do it right.
  4. High speed Internet connection – 4G cell networks will get us there.

Once you have these pieces then what can you do with it? Well one thing you can do is to augment what you are seeing with a computer based graphics augmentation. Apple has been purchasing companies who do innovative things with maps. The latest company, C3, uses a camera in a plane to automatically generate detailed 3d maps of what it flies over.  At some point we will need a detailed 3d map of the world in order to display it for both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

Here’s a model of a city that was created with this technology.

What Apple is doing here is getting ready to blow away Google Maps. This is a typical pattern of Apple. They look around and see an industry or application that has stagnated in the face of technological advancement. Digital maps are ripe for disruptive change I think.

So how does this apply to Education? Three words: Virtual Field Trips. Rather than reading about a historical event in a textbook, how about actually exploring it on your computer? You will be able to buy learning modules that will recreate historical events on the virtual model. Imagine if you can have the student role play historical figures?

One day we will all get to experience Virtual and Augmented Reality. The foundations are being laid today.

    • Since the original iPhone’s debut in 2007, Apple’s iOS devices have made use of an Apple-built Google Maps application to provide users with a quick glance at driving directions, traffic, route guidance, current location information, and details about destinations. Like with most sections of Apple’s business, the company is continually innovating, looking to take products to the next level.
    • A few years ago, Apple set out to seemingly reinvent this iOS mapping experience. As 9to5Mac reported in 2009, Apple scooped up their own mapping software development company called Placebase. In the summer of last year, Apple went one step further in their obvious pursuit of a completely in-house mapping solution and acquired a 3D mapping firm called Poly9.
    • C3 Technologies creates incredibly high-quality and detailed 3D maps with virtually no input from humans. The 3D mapping is camera based and the technology picks up buildings, homes, and even smaller objects like trees. C3′s solution comes from declassified missile targeting methods.
    • Based on Apple’s past moves in the maps arena, we have a fairly good idea of what to expect from Apple in the near future of iOS:
    • Although Apple and Google signed a deal to extend the use of Google Maps in iOS, Apple’s purchase of Placebase is a clear indicator that Apple is looking to split from Google’s backend control at some point in the near future.
    • With Apple’s aquisitions of both C3 Technologies and Poly9, we think it is very likely that the future of iOS Maps will include a third-dimension.
    • Apple has gone on the record to say that they are working on an improved traffic service for end-users.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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