Geo Week News

May 8, 2024

TomTom Collaborates with Unity on New Map Visualization Tech

Described as “a next-gen visual experience for location data”, TomTom’s new map visualization technology aims to make maps more beautiful and useful.
Image via TomTom

Mapmaking company TomTom aims to push the boundaries of location technology. With a new map visualization technology that is available through its APIs and SDKs, the company is doing just that: it gives its mapping visualization a complete makeover, while at the same time incorporating its location data to provide a better user interface and experience.

Detailed 2D and 3D visuals and textures

The new visual experience is named TomTom Premium Map Display and is meant to “upgrade” its existing car navigation system maps. In an extensive online blog post, TomTom explains what drives the demand for this new technology and how it enhances the user experience: TomTom Premium Map Display aims to bring map surfaces to life with detailed 2D and 3D visuals and textures, with added overlays of dynamic layers such as traffic, electric vehicle (EV) charging points, lane-level navigation and more. 

To bring detailed 2D and 3D visuals and textures to the world of automotive, TomTom collaborated with video game software development company Unity. As a result, TomTom Premium Display supports rapid rendering of visually rich features, such as elevated roads, high-resolution landmarks and points of interest (POIs), detailed lane markings, and terrain. The map data that is displayed with the new technology comes from TomTom’s new Orbis Maps, a recently announced map that combines open map data and proprietary data.

Image via TomTom

More than just a nice-looking map

Rather than just giving their maps a new makeover and incorporating 3D and immersive views, TomTom Premium Map Display is meant to provide a better user experience, for example enabling improved location awareness and wayfinding. With a map that more resembles the real world through details that didn’t exist before (including building footprints and shapes visualized in accurate detail), it becomes easier for people to orient themselves. This will benefit different location-based applications, such as courier and on-demand driving services. 

TomTom goes beyond mere visualization technology: customers looking to customize the look and feel of a map using “end-to-end tooling” such as styling 2D fundamentals to 3D scenes and configurable camera properties to highlight locations from any angle. TomTom’s map SDK is also integrated with Unity so that developers can access code and plugins that function within the Unity environment. This enables developing and deploying map visualizations quicker than ever before.

Why does TomTom incorporate new tech to create new map visualization?

There are multiple reasons for developing and releasing new mapping visualization tech for TomTom. The company mentions that the car industry demands richer in-car graphics and more advanced digital experiences. Immersive 3D visuals are also incorporated in GIS, BIM, and AEC, so it’s no surprise that the automotive industry is moving in this direction too. The collaboration with Unity and other game software developers has been covered in many articles on this website, for example here, here, and here

A second reason is that improved map visualization enables better efficiency and bigger bottom-line services to businesses, by gaining new insights into their operations and being able to route and track vehicles, assets, and deliveries with greater accuracy. Finally, advancing technology allows for more computer storage and rendering technology, which enables map visualizations that use three-dimensional, photo-realistic representations of the world.

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