On EveryScape, Your Memo Marks the Spot

The folks at EveryScape in Waltham, MA, have been busy trying to live up to their company’s ambitious tag line, “The Real World Online.” At the Where 2.0 conference in Burlingame, CA, today, the startup plans to announce several useful upgrades to its online catalog of street-level views of 14 world cities, including a social annotation feature allowing users to mark up its images with personalized memos to other users. The company also has a new scheme for recruiting “Destination Ambassadors” and “Local Business Ambassadors”—photographers it will pay for their help documenting more cities and interior spaces.

If you’ve followed our previous pieces about EveryScape, you’ll recall that the company sends cars mounted with digital cameras down the streets of towns and cities, capturing several 360-degree views per block. These views are then assembled into an online database that allows Web surfers to browse any specific location, or to move from view to view, as if they were reenacting the drive.

On the whole, the service is similar to the Street View feature of Google Maps. But EveryScape, much more than Google, sees its collection of street images as the gateway to many kinds of geographically organized information, ranging from Yellow Pages-style business listings to Yelp restaurant reviews, Flickr photos, and YouTube videos. In some cities, EveryScape has even photographed the interiors of specific properties such as hotels and art studios and strung them together with convincing animated transitions, allowing users to zoom into the spaces almost as if they were part of a true 3D virtual world in the style of Second Life or Google Earth.

And today EveryScape is rolling out two major improvements to its site. One is simply a bigger, prettier view. The map formerly stuck on the right side of the screen can now be turned off, leaving more space for the photos. (That means EveryScape’s pictures are now much larger than Google’s.) The other is a new system that lets users annotate the images with their own information, from advertising and marketing messages to personal notes—say, between two people picking a place to meet for dinner.

One category of annotations, called World Tags, allow businesses to upload photos, videos, links, and other information. Say you went to EveryScape’s image for the corner of Rogers Street and Edwin Land Boulevard in Cambridge, MA, site of Xconomy’s offices. First you’d notice the big Waste Management garbage truck that happened to be parked outside my window the day the EveryScape cameras went by (see image at upper right). But we could also create a World Tag for that location, and if you clicked on it, a box would pop up containing, for example, links to stories, videos, or podcasts on Xconomy.

San Francisco’s Coit Tower, with a Scape Memo attachedOnly businesses can create World Tags at the moment, and they have to work with EveryScape to do so. But there’s another category of annotations, called Scape Memos, than anyone can create and share. Attaching a Scape Memo to an EveryScape image is easy: you just click on the “Create New Memo” link, position the pointer over the right spot in the image, and type in a header and some content. You then get a unique URL that you can share with others via e-mail or instant message or publish in your blog. Anyone who clicks on the URL will be taken to a version of that image with your Scape Memo superimposed. You can even create a series of linked Scape Memos with “previous” and “next” buttons that will take you from one location to another.

My bet is that EveryScape users will find some imaginative uses for Scape Memos. For example, I’m a huge fan of the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. It’d be fairly easy to create a series of Scape Memos showing the places in San Francisco where Hitchcock did on-location shoots. The next step, of course, would be to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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2 responses to “On EveryScape, Your Memo Marks the Spot”

  1. FlagFreak says:

    Actually, Google’s planning to do much more with Street View, just not so soon. It’s probably going to get as big as Google Earth, too. ;-)

  2. Krakow says:

    Google should leave room in the market place for other businesses. A monopoly is not good for anyone.