It’s been a topic of conversation for a while now in the tech community – Google and Apple have been competing for the best map, and in particular, the best 3D map. Since Google acquired Google Earth in 2005, the basis of creating 3D buildings has relied on community efforts, designing each 3D model individually. Now, Google and Apple are both relying on automatic processes to create 3D maps, which are created with aircrafts that fly over and photograph regions systematically. Those fly-over photographs are turned into 3D models with complex computer algorithms. This automatic and imperfect method of creating 3D maps seems to be the next shift in broad-scale 3D mapping.
No matter which way you look at it, creating a 3D map of an entire city or region is a difficult task. When cities are designed a building at a time, it can be created with detail, updated on demand, and customized for many purposes. When 3D maps are created automatically with fly-over photography, they cannot be customized, are low-quality at ground level, and if even one building is added to the skyline, the entire city or region must be re-modeled to bring the map up to date.
Google has slowly begun unveiling 3D cities with this new mapping technology. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process for each region that is mapped. Orlando is one of the recent cities to receive this new 3D map. The region updated was relatively small, including Downtown Orlando, Conway, Belle Isle, the Orlando International Airport and other surrounding areas. South of Orlando, including International Drive and all the tourist attractions, did not receive the 3D map update.
For the purposes of Mainframe Real Estate and touring properties in 3D, the new maps are inadequate. Although Mainframe uses Google Earth for showcasing 3D models, the new maps don’t dramatically affect the Showing Simulations we offer for real estate tours. The new maps have exemplified that Google has taken a different direction with 3D mapping, and Mainframe is already experimenting with alternative ways to host custom 3D maps for a more purposeful and creative experience.
The question is highly debated in the geo-modeling community – are these new 3D maps a step in the right direction? You decide. Tell us what you think by commenting below or writing on our Facebook page.