Geo Week News

July 11, 2012

Now even Amazon is getting in on mobile mapping

Details are admittedly somewhat sketchy, and I’ve yet to see official confirmation anywhere, but it would appear that Amazon has purchased 3D mobile map provider UpNext (or so reports GigaOM). Coming on the heels of Apple’s announcement that it would have a native 3D map service of its own, discarding Google Maps, this looks to me like a new heated competition in 3D mapping is just around the corner. 

Here’s a demonstration of the technology we’re talking about in this case:


There’s much speculation that the Kindle Fire will have both GPS and now something like UpNext – which does deep dives into cities, especially, with 3D navigation and a social aspect – in its next iteration. Apparently, you can’t be a mobile device platform without your own map app nowadays. 

Regardless, all of these mapping platforms are going to need someone to gather the data, right? It’s unclear exactly how UpNext creates their 3D cities, but it’s got to have some data input along the way, I’m assuming, and whether that’s orthophotography or lidar, it represents an opportunity for data collection professionals out there. 

And don’t forget about indoor. I stumbled across a company called Micello Maps as I was researching UpNext, and they’re basically the UpNext for large indoor locations, like malls and stadiums. 

How do they collect their data? Well, this is what it says on the web site:

Micello has a patent-pending map creation technology that ensures the rapid creation of even the most complicated locations worldwide. This technology ensures that an accurate map can be produced in just a few hours without the need for a site-visit. Micello is literally ingesting all kinds of data in public domain and processing it through state-of-the-art mapping tools.

How this sort of magic can be accomplished, I’m not sure. No site visit needed? What sort of data do they import to create their 3D navigable maps? Wouldn’t those maps be better with a quick indoor scan and resultant point cloud? Maybe there isn’t demand for that kind of detail. Hard to say. 

At any rate, this shows there are many folks who believe there’s money to be made in providing maps of all kinds – that presents an opportunity for those who can provide the data to create those maps.

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