Explore cities in 3D with Nokia N9

Nokia City Scene
Nokia City Scene from Nokia Research Center

Ever since Nokia launched their site Nokia Maps 3D Beta, I have been thinking, when will this technology be available in our phones? When I’ve mentioned this to others they have said, “well that will probably happen some day, but years from now”. Time flies when your having fun, and ever since Nokia started to focus on their acquired asset Navteq, more and more innovative things have started to show up at the Nokia Maps site. Latest technology to emerge is Nokia City Scene now available from Nokia Beta Labs. It doesn’t give you full 3D views of the world, but it gives impressive panoramic street views, right in your phone. So maybe a full 3D map of the world in your mobile isn’t that far away after all?

“We see it as a natural extension of maps that brings new ways of interacting with location: finding what a building contains with a click, or showing information on building facades including any checked-in friends that might be inside. The 3D visual environment aims to be more natural than conventional ways of displaying location on phones. Seeing how places look from the street helps you remember if you’ve been there, or recognize them when you arrive” say Tuomas from the Nokia City Scene team.

The new beta application Nokia City Scene combine Navteq drive imagery, 3D building models, and also terrain data. This is then aligned with the help of collected laser rangefinder data (LiDAR). The application lets you search for points of interest and then explore them at street level in a panoramic view. You also get additional information from Nokia databases, with added check-in data from Foursquare and Facebook.

In the first phase Nokia City Scene only cover a dozen cities in the U.S. but the number will increase steadily as Navteq completes more drives, and collects more data. First European cities should be available soon as well. Hopefully this will happen real soon, since the Nokia N9 is not sold in the U.S. it’s kind of strange that this country has been added first. Hopefully this beta will also extend to other devices running Symbian and also Windows Phone.