Find your bearings
May 16, 2006 8:25 PM   Subscribe

A9 Maps now combines Amazon's BlockView images in another ajax map interface (with the maps by Mapquest, interestingly). Amazon has been driving around major cities taking photos of each block and now as you browse the map, street-level images come up alongside. The interface isn't quite intuitive, but it is nice to see the idea coming together.
posted by pithy comment (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sure beats Microsoft's attempt at the same thing.

Great timing as I plan a trip to Chicago next week... now I already know what my hotel and its neighbourhood looks like -- and it appears that it's closer to the El than I thought! Thanks!
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:12 PM on May 16, 2006

As a little kid I took a tour of the DOT and they showed me this thing where they had laserdisc archives (crazy laserdiscs in cassettes) with timelaps photos of people driving down every street in the state.

It was kinda cool.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on May 16, 2006

thats cool. Perfect in combination with google maps
posted by subaruwrx at 9:25 PM on May 16, 2006

It sure beats Microsoft's attempt at the same thing.

I disagree. Having street level images is definitely closer to the experiece that we all have while driving around, but it doesn't seem practical to have pictures of every building from the street. M$'s oblique images taken from airplanes still give you some idea of what the building you're looking for looks like (rather than just seeing the roof from a satellite) without requiring such a huge number of images. I guess we could try to guess at the relative cost of sending up an airplane and camera versus having a team of people drive around in customized SUV's with cameras, but I'm betting on planes at this point.

The interface for A9's beta is total garbage. We're all used to clicking and dragging on the new map engines... using mapquest is a big step back.
posted by pkingdesign at 9:52 PM on May 16, 2006

It's also not correct. At least for my block (where else would anyone look first, eh?) street indictors and pictures are neither accurate nor consistent with each other.
posted by twsf at 10:22 PM on May 16, 2006

This would be more useful in Google Earth rather than the confines of my browser.
posted by philosophistry at 10:37 PM on May 16, 2006

Interesting idea but, as noted, flawed (or at least dated) execution. It was a little uncanny being able to search for my home address and have a picture of my house come up, though... ever feel like you're being watched?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:54 PM on May 16, 2006

Fun. I did a project about 5 years ago, when I got my first digital camera. I photographed all directions at every intersection in central Duesseldorf, and the park there (Hofgarten). I never published the effort (typical for myself!).

My concept was trying to create a sense of movement as one clicked from corner to corner. I became unsure how to handle 'T' intersections and changed my mind once or twice. But now I have a huge database of photos showing central Duesseldorf at the beginning of the new millennium.
posted by Goofyy at 11:23 PM on May 16, 2006

As for the link, I get nothing but broken links for images. Perhaps it doesn't approve of IPs in South Africa.
posted by Goofyy at 11:33 PM on May 16, 2006

I don't find either or this to be an especially useful interface, although in both cases it's nice to have the images once you find them. For example, Windows Live gave us high-quality low-altitude images from all four sides of my parents' rental properties (and we're not even in a major city). This gave me a street-level view of a couple of places I worked, but obscured by trees in both cases.

Now, somebody's gotta have the chops to write a mash-up of both of these with a waypoint-based directions creator, so you can get a preview of what intersections look like before you get there. Could've used something like that a few months ago, when I was navigator and took the wrong left-side exit ramp in Milwaukee.
posted by dhartung at 12:34 AM on May 17, 2006

Where are the links to the interesting discoveries? No flying cars? No "nekkid chick standing in window" pictures?
posted by pracowity at 12:49 AM on May 17, 2006

Almost as nice as "nekkid chick" pictures would be mash-friendly APIs for both A9 Maps and Windows Live Local.

Ok, maybe not as nice.
posted by shortfuse at 12:58 AM on May 17, 2006

Yeah, it's another step, all right, but dhartung's got it - what we really need is something that mashes up these into something useful, which means it will have to lose the proprietary quirks of each, and will probably be some kind of infringement - you know, like actual mash-ups.

I'm kind of impatient on this to happen, since I did a project back in the 20th century that was predicated on this very interface evolving sometime within this decade.

Come on, hackers!
posted by soyjoy at 7:38 AM on May 17, 2006

A couple of more steps and mashups, and we'll all be... back to the future (1978-1980) with Aspen Movie Map (QuickTime video). I can't wait til Microsoft releases its entire database on laserdisc!

Drawing from Aspen Movie Map, one mashup would be: you tell the system you want to go from A to B, and it'll spit out a video that shows you what going from A to B really looks like. You load it on your iPod and off you go.

- The video could be indexed or split into multiple clips at significant points (turns, freeway entry, etc.) so you could jump ahead or trace backwards.
- The video could be spit out from diff viewpoints (driver or passenger) so that backseat drivers can easily take part in finding the way, watching footage of streets and blocks that matches their own POV.
- The video could have speech-gen audio directions synced to the video. Just as/before you see the footage of turning right on Main Street, you hear "turn right on Main Street".
posted by shortfuse at 8:23 AM on May 17, 2006

Noticeable lack of Astoria.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:49 AM on May 17, 2006

Drawing from Aspen Movie Map, one mashup would be: you tell the system you want to go from A to B, and it'll spit out a video that shows you what going from A to B really looks like. You load it on your iPod and off you go.

I believe M$ is actually working on something similar to this. It doesn't spit out a movie, but they have an interface where you see images of what you'll see in front of you and on either side of the car as you drive to your destination. It was pretty buggy at the demo I saw, but it was close to what you're describing. You could navigate yourself before the trip, or (even better) you could probably hook it up to GPS and watch a movie of what you're seeing in real time as you drive. ... .
posted by pkingdesign at 10:31 AM on May 17, 2006

This is a lot of fun, but what is it for?
posted by LarryC at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2006

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