Click to viewMicrosoft's Windows Live Local armada is striking back against Google's Streetview fleet with all the technological terror they can find. Check this Chevy Tahoe's intimidating top: six huge cameras, two GPS antennas and what could be a laser rangefinder on top, all connected with giant cables. Google's gear may not be as impressive but which is more effective? [Google gear info after the jump updated at 07/29 8:55PM EST]
We know that Google may be using more than one company to get pictures of all US streets. Microsoft is probably doing the same, but we can compare between these two autobots.
Both companies use Chevy cars. Google is using Cobalt LS sedans, which may not be as chic as the Immersive Media VW Beetles but they at least consume less than the gas-guzzling Tahoes. The Cobalt LS has a 2.2L engine, doing 25mpg in the city. The Tahoe is much less effective: even the smallest 4.8L V8-engine Tahoe LS can only manage 16mpg, according to the manufacturer—not the ideal car to do street shots.
Winner: While none of them are using Smart cars, Google clearly wins on fuel efficiency for urban areas, making it more cost-effective. And their fleet will have a smaller carbon footprint too, so extra points for that.
This Windows Live Local SUV is provided by Facet Tech, a company that uses a technology called SightMap. The company claims theirs is a "next-generation" 360 VR solution with extremely precise geo-mapping. They say they already have 400 terabytes of image data with 1 billion geo-referenced high resolution images, so Microsoft could have licensed loads of pics already.
The equipment atop the Tahoe, with its enormous lenses, presumably high-quality sensors and laser rangefinder, looks amazing but is not necessarily better than Google's simpler setup. We don't know exactly what Google is using, but it may be something similar to the 11-camera sphere of Immersive Media, the company that was providing VR shots in NYC. According to reader Clem Taylor, Google may be using a Point Grey Ladybug2 or some variation.
The Ladybug®2 is the next generation of spherical digital video cameras from Point Grey Research. The system has six cameras that enable it to collect video from more than 75% of the full sphere, and an IEEE-1394b interface that allows streaming to disk at 30fps.
Looks rather simple and elegant.
Winner: none. It's a draw for now. The Google system seems more simple and elegant, but the results may not be as good. We will have to wait until they complete their respective efforts to see the quality of each system.
Pseudo-pick-up tank-looking Tahoe or bland Cobalt sedan? At least with all that gear on top, the SUV looks more Transformers-worthy. And probably capable of destroying everything around with multiple lasers or anti-matter beams.
Winner: Microsoft for its badass top.
It looks like there's no absolute winner to us. What's your opinion?
Have you seen any of these Windows Live Local trucks? Send us your pics to tips. [Facet Tech via Flickr - Thanks Wayne!]