Virtual 3D will let you ‘fly’

With the launch of a new online application unveiled by Microsoft, users will be able to “fly” over cities and in between buildings just like they do in virtual reality environments.

Known as Virtual Earth 3D, this new technology lets users view a three-dimensional map of, initially, 15 American cities when they use “Live Search”, Newsweek magazine reported in its latest issue. With the upgraded Virtual Earth 3D, Microsoft has edged ahead of Google in at least one aspect of the race to bring immersive maps to the Internet: it has added a missing piece — photorealistic buildings that sprout from the ground and evoke the lifelike but illusory world of The Matrix, the magazine said.

For now, it’s merely a novel way to spend some time. But if Microsoft continues to add new cities and improves an already expensive project, the 3D Web could become a carbon copy of the real world and a powerful new platform on which to blend advertising, social networks, search and e-commerce, the report said.

“A seedling is being planted that could grow into a range of things that will be very interesting,” Internet analyst Greg Sterling was quoted as saying. “We probably don’t even understand all the implications right now.” Engineers at Microsoft understood that creating a navigable replica of the planet might give users a more intuitive way to surf and search the Internet. Need to get driving directions? Instead of following lines and written directions on a map, Virtual Earth might, one day, take you on a run-through of your route, showing the precise landmarks where you’ll make turns, the report said. If you want to search a particular store whose name you have forgotten, you can visit that neighbourhood in Virtual Earth 3D and see the actual name on the front window of the building, Newsweek explained.

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