Belgium – According to Arnout Desmet, managing director of APAC South for Tele Atlas, the company has deployed a fleet of camera-mounted vans that are now canvassing the streets of major cities such as Singapore capturing three-dimensional information for its upcoming 3-D world maps.
Each vehicle is equipped with up to six cameras that capture detailed information of its surroundings, down to the texture of building facades.
In a demonstration to CommsDay at this year’s Communicasia, Desmet showed off an example of the rapid enhancements of digital mapping capabilities in the recent past, which shows an evolution of mapping from 2-D flat graphics to eye-level perspective of 3D models of buildings and streets.
The next step, Desmet said, is to add textures and details to the walls of the buildings and streets. The only constraints to the commercial deployment of the technology are performance limitations of available hardware at the right price point. “The biggest challenge is how you can run this efficiently on a mobile device,” Desmet said.
While some of its partners are already developing applications with 3D capabilities, it will be a couple of years before such capabilities come to the mass market.
“On the one hand, you have the hardware constraints, but there is also price pressure for the hard manufacturers because they have to keep the cost of their build of materials quite low for this market, so they cannot work with the latest fancy processors,” Desmet explained. “You need to have the right set of cost structures in place, the right set of hardware components to make it happen, but it’s going to happen.”
“It is probably going to roll out first for high end in-car systems, and high-end portable devices, and then later on it will become more mass market.”
Another major trend in the digital mapping space is to expansion of mapping data down to the street level for pedestrians, as well as the integration of information from other sources, such as public transport systems and even down to user-generated content.
“Most digital mapping systems are very vehicle-centric at the moment,” Desmet said.
“But these applications can also be useful for pedestrian routes. In order to do that, we need to include information, such as bus routes, bus stops, and even dynamic data like time tables.”
“This uses the road network in a completely different way, so the next generation of navigation information will have seamless navigation service from you home to the office using whatever mode of travel, be it walking, be it cycling, be it on public transport. This is our vision.”
At the same time, Tele Atlas’ merger with navigation system maker, Tomtom, will now leverage a feature that allows users to update mapping information from their navigation devices. According to Desmet, over 1.1 million reports have been posted by Tomtom users in the past four months. “This is going to revolutionize how we update and create mapping data,” Desmet said.