Windows Live Maps continues to do amazing things with its 3D view, adding an experience that in many ways matches or surpasses Google Earth, all while running in nothing more than your regular web browser. The latest new feature is the ability to add 3D models to the map, a feature Google Earth accomplishes with Google SketchUp, and Live Maps now manages with the 3DVIA Technology Preview, a new, free online application developed by Dassault SystÃ¨mes.
Getting started is as easy as navigating on the map in 3D and clicking Collections, then “Add a 3D model” (alternatively, you could just go here). The software will prompt you to install 3DVIA, which takes a while, but after that you can right-click on the map at any time to add a 3D model, which will launch the software.
Users can create a quick and easy 3D model of their house or other buildings they know, including adding textures and colors, then upload them back to Live Maps and see the model on the map. User-created 3D models can be shared as collections to show friends, but presumably Microsoft will start adding the best ones to the main Live Maps, increasing their stable of detailed 3D models.
I’m amazed that there are buildings in my neighborhood that have 3D models already. Somehow, Queens College, apartment buildings, even largish synagogues in my little slice of Queens have detailed 3D models, with an amazing amount of intricacy. Even my wife’s old apartment in Brooklyn is modeled. I don’t believe for a second that someone modeled these by hand, not with the curved surfaces and detailed diagonal roofs, which means Microsoft’s automated building tech has gotten really advanced. Good for them.
I haven’t been able to get 3DVIA working, in order to compare it with Google SketchUp, but as soon as I get a chance we’ll see which is easier to use. Either way, its another great step towards making Live Maps the most impressive mapping product on or off the internet.