Locating the market
There can be few people not suffering from 3D fatigue; most of the films released seem to be in 3D these days and the TV industry has a seriously scratched record on the matter. But sometimes, as with the LG Optimus 3D, a 3D product is released that genuinely does offer something remarkable.
Visioglobe is a company that specialises in the visualisation of map data, which it does primarily by rendering it in 3D. The other main string to its bow is compressing that data by a factor of ten. In both cases, from what we've seen, it really does deliver.
We met Visioglobe at the Imagination Technologies stand at MWC, and used its render of the location of the show in our story about Imagination. Visioglobe politely pointed out to us after they saw the story that we'd neglected to mention them at all, so we thought the least we could do is find out a bit more about the company from CEO Eric Bernard.
Pleasantries aside, we waded straight in with the ‘isn't 3D all just a bit of a gimmick?' line of questioning. Bernard insisted there are a lot of useful applications for having 3D renders of maps, especially where there is a major 3D element to the navigation itself, such as in big cities, in large buildings and on ski slopes.
"The big challenge is to render at 20 frames per second or higher, in order to be able to provide the user with a high quality 3D experience," said Bernard. "We're targeting pedestrian navigation in big cities, and indoor navigation in malls, airports, etc is the same concept."
The best way to illustrate this stuff is to see it in action, and we've embedded below the Visioglobe corporate video, an app that won the LBS Challenge APAC, and a clip showing the ski slope app. We think they at least demonstrate how this sort of technology can be useful in the real world.
Quite early in the middle clip, you can see the person press an icon for a watch shop highlighted by the app. This is an indication of the way Visioglobe's technology can integrate with, and enhance, other location based services. Given that 3D mapping is useful primarily for pedestrian navigation, it's easy to see this technology could be used to deliver local marketing and information.
In fact it may well be a more accessible and practical way to do so than some of the augmented reality cleverness that's emerging, as you don't have to be pointing your phone at a location to find out more about it.
Right now Visioglobe is acquiring customers on a location-by-location basis, but there's no reason why is couldn't enter into a larger deal with the likes of Telmap. The urban 3D data is acquired from its partner Navteq, but Visioglobe collects the required data for indoor projects itself. There's a new app being launched in the French Apple app store soon.