Google's not the only one in the game when it comes to wild mapping tech, and while Microsoft's excellent collection of bird's eye photos has never gotten it quite the attention of Google's Street View, the hope is that lasers
and its much-lauded Photosynth
tool can do the trick. Microsoft has done up a Street View-style canvassing of 56 US cities with cars that not only snap photos but include range-finding lasers to map out the architecture in 3D. The Silverlight
-based viewer for this view (dubbed Streetside) is similar in interface to Google Maps, a tad slower, and rather visually impressive. In addition, Microsoft is leaning on its Photosynth technology to collect navigable panoramas of scenery and even building interiors. Finally, Microsoft has tacked on "apps" of sorts, little overlays that include traffic cameras, restaurants, a Twitter API and so forth. All of this coupled with an improved version of the bird's eye view is quite a visual treat, but the Silverlight requirement and non-Google-ness of it all might keep away the Bing-averse among us. But really, with all this tit-for-tat going on between Microsoft and Google, we have to wonder what sort of stone age we'd be stuck in if we didn't have these two behemoths going at each other like this. The "Beta" is live now at the source link.