It’s no secret that Nokia has invested heavily on mapping technology to help differentiate itself in the mobile space. The $8.1 billion acquisition of NavTeq should have been clue enough that Nokia is serious about it, and it has been one of the glowing factors of its mobile business, in both the Symbian era and with the current Windows Phones. You may also find that Nokia HERE Maps is integrated into many services such as FaceBook, Bing, Yahoo, even Toyota’s navigation systems.
Despite all this, Nokia still faces tough competition from Google, who has pushed 3D mapping and StreetView onto its online and mobile applications, both areas that Nokia’s HERE Maps is lagging in. Well, they’re looking to change that with some new mapping technology from Earthmine that should shorten the gap between HERE and Google’s mapping solutions. The popular weblog, Slashgear, went to experience Nokia’s new system firsthand.
This new update has improved every aspect of the system. Shown above is a newly developed camera that combines four 16.8MP super-wide-angle cameras, resulting in a 68MP panoramic view. 3D specialist, Earthmarine, included fisheye lenses that allow 360-degree recordings that can span from the street up to the sky. And atop that is a highly accurate LIDAR laser system, which is used to build a 3D picture of the environment. At one given time, the system captures over 700,000 3D data points. Integrating the 3D expertise of Earthmarine, who Nokia acquired last year, the updated system promises higher-resolution images and more accurate 3D mapping than Google.
The entire system is controlled by a Surface tablet mounted on the dashboard and a custom app dubbed HERE True Control. It allows the driver to preview the photos taken by the cameras (shown below), as well as guiding the driver through their route, simultaneously sending data to Nokia’s servers and analyzing the route to minimize redundancies while maximizing data consumption. And the amount of data collected reaches about 140GB a day, which is collected over 3 days and sent off for processing.
One cool feature of the new LIDAR laser system is that it can record street signs, building names, and any written information, and by using text recognition can greatly improve POI (points of interest) data.
Nokia’s really pulling in all the stops on this one, and they’re planning to expand their efforts outside of North America and Europe to countries in Asia, South America, and Africa. And while they may be behind Google, Nokia HERE Maps is not looking to back down any time soon, and they’re confident that they’ll ultimately surpass the search giant.
Note: I realize the photos aren’t actually showing up. Not really sure why that is, but you can see them and more by clicking on the source.