Earthmine May Outshine Google Street View

    June 28, 2007

Taking on Google is, to understate the matter, usually a foolish proposition.  Taking on Google and Microsoft . . . well, that could be even less wise.  Yet a company called Earthmine appears ready to make a successful challenge to both Google’s Street View and Microsoft’s Live Local.

Webware’s Rafe Needleman first points out several flaws with Street View – “lens flare, distortion, and poor stitching artifacts.”  To get a better understanding of these problems, simply view this collection of Street View photos (I especially like number nine, “The guy with no head”).

Then Needleman gets into how Earthmine has outdone Google and Microsoft.  The company “plans to launch soon an urban imagery system that features much more precise data and visuals,” he reports.  “Using laser range-finding and still photography (instead of the video that Google’s current system employs), the Earthmine system will offer not only sharp and perspective-correct visuals, but also will collect 3D data – the actual survey-quality coordinates of light poles, trash cans, storefronts, your neighbor’s tree encroachment into your front yard, and so on.”

Of course, it’s hard to say if this system will live up to its promise – the thing hasn’t been released yet, and for now, the official site provides little more than an animated trailer.  But Earthmine, according to Needleman, thinks its service should be good enough to sell to businesses and the government.  (A version will be made available to the public, as well.)

There’s one more thing to consider here: as Google, Microsoft, and Earthmine vehicles drive around, taking video and snapping photos, Nilay Patel writes, “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.”