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Is Apple Developing a User-Generated “Street View” Feature In Maps?

Apple patent Street View

According to a recent patent that was awarded to Apple last week for a concept that could allow Apple to crowd-source street-level, three-dimensional mapping data by simply using photos taken by users on their iPhones according to Inside Apple.

The U.S. Patent No. 8,624,974 B2 was awarded to Apple last Tuesday, entitled “Generating a Three-Dimensional Model Using a Portable Electronic Device Recording,”

Here is the abstract:

Systems and methods are provided for navigating a three-dimensional model using deterministic movement of an electronic device. An electronic device can load and provide an initial display of a three dimensional model (e.g., of an environment or of an object). As the user moves the electronic device, motion sensing components can detect the device movement and adjust the displayed portion of the three-dimensional model to reflect the movement of the device. By walking with the device in the user’s real environment, a user can virtually navigate a representation of a three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, a user can record an object or environment using an electronic device, and tag the recorded images or video with movement information describing the movement of the device during the recording. The recorded information can then be processed with the movement information to generate a three-dimensional model of the recorded environment or object.

So Apple could take all these street-level photos and convert them into three-dimensional models and make them available in its Maps Application. This technology can also take advantage of photos taken inside buildings, trails, and anywhere where a normal vehicle can’t go.

Google currently obtains its own “Street View” data by driving vehicles with 360-degree cameras on streets around the world. This data is then captured and made available online

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Will this invention ever make it in Apple’s Map Application? No one can confirm that at this point. This patent could also be used against Google if they ever decide to use a similar technology on its Android tablets.

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