Thursday, June 28, 2007

Earthmine's photo-truck totally tries to one-up Google, Microsoft

Street level mapping services like Google's Street View and Microsoft's Live Local have gotten a lot of attention lately, but while the notion of pervasive map-linked photography is pretty impressive, the actual execution leaves something to be desired -- the images are occasionally of low quality, have stitching errors, and there are some lingering privacy concerns. A new company called Earthmine is out to solve all those problems, though, by providing high-quality, survey-accurate panoramic photography -- and has a truck or two with cameras towering tall to prove it. Unlike Google's video system, Earthmine plans to use laser range finders and high dynamic range still cameras mounted higher than usual to provide perspective-accurate images that preserve detail and resolution -- but automatically blur out faces and other identifying information, like license plates. Earthmine is planning on selling the service to businesses and governmental agencies, but a consumer version should launch at the end of the summer. We think they should watch out though, we hear the Street View and Live Local drivers have crazy road rage; we really wouldn't want to see anybody from Earthmine get caught up in some kind of weird, street level photography turf war. [Thanks, eggman]