Where 2.0 Musings and Chickens and Lasers

Where20 Where 2.0, 2010 is over, so I figured I’d share a few of few of my thoughts about the show, the people and the industry. Overall, the show was the most highly attended yet growing year over year and topping 1100 registrants. It was an interesting mix of data providers, application developers and novelty acts which I’ll discuss in some detail below…

Night of the living base maps – While NAVTEQ has perennially been the data champ for all base maps created in the last 15 years, the wiki map creators generated much of the buzz at the show. OpenStreetMap has made huge strides in getting data for areas where other just don’t have it. One of the keynote sessions was about how within a few days Port of Prince was mapped out with extreme detail by user generate content from people on the ground using GPS. CloudMade was discussed in comparison to OpenStreetMap, but it seems OSM are the current darlings. Google’s map maker was shown in Michael Jones’ keynote when he compared their data to “Yahoo, MapQuest and the others” showing off the data user’s have added. Apparently, we (Bing Maps) have a new nickname. TeleAtlas was nowhere to be found…at least I didn’t see them. It would appear it’s power to the people when it comes to creating base map data and it will be important to see just what this means for the big 2 and who they choose to partner with.

NAVTEQLBSChocolateMore map apps – Map applications are proliferating like mad. Dennis Crowley from foursquare showed off foursquare, why people love it and how it’s generating revenue for businesses who use the couponing feature. GoWalla announced some key partnerships with their application for giving out prizes to random folks who check-in to Chipotle or are in search for Adobe’s Creative Suite 5 simply by being the lucky winner to check-in to the right location. Facebook made an appearance, but disappointed by not announcing anything location relevant and instead focused on why mobile is important to their users (Indonesia is in their top 5 countries with mobile usage because few users have PCs). NAVTEQ had their LBS Challenge finals at Where 2.0. I happened to be one of 12 judges and I was privy to see some really awesome map-based application (and, some not so awesome). Zos Communications’ Zhiing was one of my favorites with it’s ability to “Zhiing” people – sending location information about where you are or specify where to send location information to via MMS, Text or Email. FWIW, Cypress Solutions won the North American Challenge.


“The Others” – It seems that in terms of announcements, we (Bing Maps) might’ve stolen some thunder at Where 2.0 this year. I pushed out 5 announcements in just 18 hours and Blaise demoed most of them on stage. Probably the most buzzed announcement was the Bing Maps foursquare application which visualizes foursquare check-ins, badge awards, mayor coronations and tips. We announced a new rental property search Bing maps application for Oodle. Plus, we modified and moved the Bing Maps World Tour into the Bing Maps app gallery. We announced the release of some 6.4 million square kilometers of new and updated imagery. And, finally, we announced some release information about updates to Bing Maps. Oh, and I was lucky enough to host the Bing party at Fahrenheit in downtown San Jose which Tim O’Reilly himself attended. Posh. It seems most developers are still building on either GMaps or “The Others’” map APIs, but it was nice to see SimpleGeo launched a new set of APIs, Nokia’s Ovi Maps now letting more people experiment and MapQuest and Yahoo are sill hanging around.


Random acts of randomness – The plenary was surreal. I mean, seriously more than half of the speakers who each had 5 minutes had NOTHING to do with location…or, at least didn’t spend any of their 5 minutes discussing where it was relevant. The punch line to most of the show’s jokes was Martin Isenburg’s “Have Chickens, Need Lasers” session which was pretty much the most belligerent, incomprehensible session I’d ever seen. So, instead of making him the punch line of my jokes I invited him to my party and talked with him to understand WTF he was talking about. We chatted for a good 30 minutes and while he’s the self proclaimed “only green human being, God to anyone studying LIDAR and a broccoli evangelist” he actually had an interesting concept that he tried to fit in 5 minutes (rather unsuccessfully). He’s built the capability to stream LIDAR information in real time. This means that you can tune in to a place with streaming LIDAR to fully immerse yourself into that specific world from anywhere you can connect to the web. So, take a room full of chickens and place a 360 LIDAR sensor in the middle of the room and stream the readings over the web. User would be able to change the angle at which they’re viewing the chickens and even interact with the chickens. Now, of course, chickens was a nice cover up for the military implications this has for recreating a digital scan of a specific bunker, room, hideout, etc. for gathering reconnaissance information. Get a camera on top of that LIDAR and you’ve got a 3D stream of information coming back in real time. Microsoft’s Ultracam has these capabilities. I wonder if our Vexcel team in Austria worships him.


So, there you have it. Where 2.0 wasn’t a disappointment this year…and, I got a new foursquare badge to boot.

CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton

Join the conversation

  1. givelord

    Thanks for this information about Zhiing, a useful API for locating people.

  2. Chris Pendleton

    TeleAtlas has historically gathered their map data using aerial photos / satellite images. NAVTEQ drives the actual streets. This is why NAVTEQ's data has such high fidelity and the routing experience is that much better. So, take it with a grain of salt – in certain areas, I'm sure OSM will have great data; others, not so great. This is why I want to see some partnerships OR NAVTEQ rolling out a wiki toolset.

  3. bouka55

    I didn't know you could crowdsource maps like OpenStreetMap is doing, I always thought you needed satellites and all those technologies!

  4. Chris Pendleton

    Thanks Nathanael. Blaise's panel – no, I had press meetings during Blaise's panel, so I even missed it. WRT wrapping OSM APIs – this would be news to me. We're investigating ways to expand and scale our Flickr photos services, so yes, we hope to make this a viable service at some point. As for an OSM map app – I'd rather see them partner with NAVTEQ to improve data; or, at least have some better tools in place for opening NAVTEQ's capabilities to scale their data out. The backpack cams are MS FTEs at this point and the driving is now done by NAVTEQ. As for the bikes, well, we haven't done anything there so maybe you get a job with NAVTEQ to cover bike paths. :) Thanks for the continued feedback.

  5. wxmxjl

    I really did like what i saw of google's map builder in their presentation.

  6. Nathanael

    Well, well! Talking about your peers in the industry? I like it, Chris.

    With the understanding that you are the Bing Maps evangelist and this is the Bing Maps blog, I always appreciate when people can simply honestly give props to peers where credit is due in addition to getting your own message out there in a reasonably unbiased way.

    I don't suppose you had time to record that panel discussion that Blaise participated in? I would have liked to heard the direct conversation between he and John Hanke, Tom Wailes, and Danny Sullivan.

    O'Reilly has the keynote up on YouTube here ( http://www.youtube.com/watch ) but no sign of the "The Big Picture, from the Big Players".

    I really did like what I saw of Google's map builder in their presentation. I know that you guys are working on wrapping Open Street Map into Bing Maps. Are you simply going to rely on existing open mapping solutions like OSM to provide feature parity with Google on that point or roll your own user contribution system? I realise that you already have systems in place with MapCruncher, Photosynth, and efforts such as Streetside Photos going on with Flickr (should we expect to see that leave CTP status before the new year? Should we expect more sources to be added other than Flickr?), as well as your partnership with 3DVia, but there's no unified interface that allows end users to understand all of these options or teaches us how to use them. I could even see a custom Open Street Map app for the Map App Gallery be a fantastic addition, with video tutorials on how to provide correct data to their system.

    Lastly, how does someone go about getting the sweet job of being one of the guys to wear the backpack|bicycle|etc.-mounted Ultracam to provide indoor panoramas, etc.? I'm more than interested.

  7. petknowledge

    Wow, streaming in real time is a big feature, that are certainly much of data to be transfered.

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