TED2010: Spatial Search – Bing, Flickr, Videos, Maps and the Stars

Some of the most interesting people around are gathering this week in in Long Beach, Calif., for TED2010.  The presentations and discussions at TED are often wide-ranging, sometimes controversial, and always fascinating.  As you might expect, quite a few Microsoft people attend TED either as presenters or as participants. 

One of those presenting today was Blaise Aguera y Arcas,  our Bing Maps architect. Blaise showed how the Bing team is bringing Flickr photos, live video, and even a view of the stars offered by Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope to Bing Maps.  Imagine looking up a location on Bing Maps, and seeing not just the Streetside view from our own cameras but also photos from Flickr of the same location, and historical images, seamlessly woven into the Streetside view with the help of Microsoft Photosynth technology.  The whole location comes to life.  You can see what it looks like in the day, and how it looks at night. You can see what it used to look like, and what it looks like today.  And if that wasn’t enough with WorldWide Telescope integration (a Microsoft Research project) you can even see the night sky above a particular location.  Blaise also showed integration of live video in to Bing Maps allowing a webcam feed to give you a real time sense of the location.

Imagine the rich understanding you’ll have of a particular location, and the better insight and decisions you can make, if you combine the Bing Maps with the power of hundreds of photos contributed via Flickr, the integration of live video, and even a sense of the night sky. 

This is just one aspect of what the Bing team calls “spatial search” – the idea of reuniting some of the rich, deep content that exists across the web with its original geographic location.  Putting the data where it makes most sense and can be most useful.  Helping people make decisions the way they do naturally – by using all of their senses.  The intent is to better help you explore, discover and decide.   The Bing team have a great blog post up about their approach, and some more details on what Blaise showed at TED.  And a great video of the new Streetside experience in action.

Posted by Dominic Carr
Director, Microsoft News Center.

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