Looks like Microsoft is working hard on some interesting features for Virtual Earth.

The map-search technology required Microsoft to get millions of street-level pictures of Seattle’s buildings and landmarks. Those pictures were added to a database and indexed by distinguishing features that can be cross referenced to pictures sent in by users.

Increasingly sophisticated mobile phones are becoming a popular device to search for maps, directions and other local information and Microsoft said the service is a logical next step.

“When you are using a mobile phone, then inputting text can sometimes be difficult. So we decided to make the camera the input,” said Xing Xie, a Microsoft researcher who was demonstrating the technology.

Fascinating how all these acquisitions Microsoft has made over the past few years are beginning to work together to make what could be a very useful application. Being a Geographer I’m never lost, but my wife can’t find her way out of a closet. I could see this being great value to her (as opposed to call him and trying to describe where she is over a cell phone).

It looks like this technology is very hard to get working so it might be a long time before it gets out of the Microsoft research labs and into the public.

old motorola

Might be time to update the old Motorola