Apple has announced they will have a “best in class’ maps app coming with iOS6 and Google has just improved its own maps.
But there are plenty of “mappers” out there and more will be coming as new and better devices will make maps an everyday backdrop in many of our interactions with computers and, more important, with the world. Indeed, I can easily imagine that we are going to use a map even to see the place where “we are”, because that map will provide plenty of information about the place “we are”.
And in a longer term I can imagine that we won’t even need a screen to display a map. It will be displayed directly on our eyes. and will overlap, in an augmented reality way, with what we see around us.
Maps are getting better, just look at the picture above. It is a map, even though it does not look like. It is produced by Hover, a company creating stunning 3D maps. And there are several others, like UpNext, producing 3D representations. Just read the article in Technology Review to get a feeling on what is going on.
However, an this is the reason for this post, as I was reading that article I thought that indeed the best mapping would come from photos, even better from real or quasi-real time photos. I am pretty sure that before the end of this decade we will see some companies that will create dynamic maps by integrating photos that will be taken by you and me and by millions of others around the clock.
Those maps will also contain quasi real time information, will result from mashing up a variety of information channels appropriately filtered to fit my needs at that particular time. GPS and continuous picture taking are becoming more and more common. Already today, just bought an AW100, you take a picture with your camera and you see overlaid on the screen information about the place you focused on. The first time I saw it I was surprised; in a few days I got used to it. Now, after just one week, I am using my new camera not (only) to take pictures but to get information about what I am seeing through the lens. The bits and atoms are coming together in most unexpected ways…