Harshdeep 2.0

March 5, 2006

Issues with Virtual Earth Technology Preview – Privacy and Feasibility

Filed under: Internet — harshdeep @ 9:57 am

It’s been some time since you’ve been able to see the aerial view of your apartment building complete with the cars parked in the front and the outline of the jogging track. Where do you go from here?

Microsoft people sent cars covered with cameras all over Seattle and San Francisco to capture the street-level view of these cities. Using the data, they built up this site where you can virtually drive (or walk) around the city, with real snapshots of the buildings around you.

However, I’m not sure how they are going to tackle the privacy issues regarding the people and cars appearing in these pictures.

(Digression – Some time back Indian government had complained against Google Earth for providing easy availability to the layout of high-security regions like airports. Didn’t get to hear what Google had to say about this.)

Another issue is scalability. Right now it’s available only for Seattle and San Francisco. I don’t think the costs involved in shooting every nook and corner of the world can be justified. Add to that the need to constantly update the database as roadside views change quite frequently (what if the Barista store you want to virtually drive to was opened after the camera equipped cars had already driven through the area). Even if they are planning to make it available for major cities (in the US) only and even though they are the richest company ever, I think costs involved are just too high.

Here is a Channel 9 demo video.

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