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Windows Live and Privacy

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the filming-now-in-a-city-near-you dept.

372

An anonymous reader writes "Today as we were biking around our neighborhood in a small city we saw a strange vehicle slowly driving around. It appeared to be an SUV, bristling with cameras mounted on the roof, and pointing just about every possible direction. The first time we saw it, all we could see was that it had a sign on the side, something about Windows. The second time we saw it, we stared at it so hard that the driver stopped and we had a chance to ask him what it was all about. He said he was driving around, filming streets, and that there were people doing this all over the world, and getting data from the air too. It was going to be available on the Web. I asked him if this was Microsoft's answer to Google Earth, and he indicated that it was. There seems to be very little about this on the Web, and I found no mention of Microsoft's collection of this sort of detailed street level data. The Windows site appears to be http://preview.local.live.com/, although since I use a Mac it didn't work properly. I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could."

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372 comments

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OH SNAP!!! It's the Vista Police.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093192)

quick....uninstall...UNINSTALL!!!

Why not? (3, Funny)

xyankee (693587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093200)

"And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could." Why couldn't they? It's amazing the things they can do with computers these days, you know...

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093214)

Amazon has already done this two years ago. I found myself walking in front of my apartment in New York City.

Re:Why not? (4, Informative)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093346)

a9 maps used to do this. Interestingly enough, a9 maps no longer exists [a9.com] . Though now they appear to be in bed with Live

This is old news... kind of (4, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093208)

Yes, this has been going on for some months now. You don't see too much talking about this because:

1) This is a project in MS lab that has been kind of limited

2) People don't like to talk about MS making things better

3) Soon yuu will see Google adding this feature as well. THEN, you will read about this and average Joe will tell you how Google innovates and MS catchs up [bg]

Re:This is old news... kind of (3, Funny)

Cycloid Torus (645618) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093264)

Stupid me...(sound of hand slapping forehead)... when I saw them, I thought it was maybe the FBI in disguise, you know, tracking terrorists or something... stupid me.

Re:This is old news... kind of (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093306)

But (as another poster also pointed out elsewhere) didn't Amazon do this years ago?

Re:This is old news... kind of (3, Insightful)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093314)

This was strong already done by a9.com and integrated with Yahoo! maps briefly. The test site is no longer live. So, no innovation on behalf of either Microsoft or Google if they start doing it now.

Re:This is old news... kind of (4, Informative)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093406)

This [outer-court.com] is what it used to look like. It was pretty awesome.

Re:This is old news... kind of (0)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093582)

Oh, so to make an innovative program based on a new concept, the people producing that program must have also been the first people ever to think of that idea?

I bet your one of those people that still uses the Mosaic web browser, claiming it's more "innovative" than all the others.

Re:This is old news... kind of (4, Insightful)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093750)

Actually, yes, wouldn't that be the definition of innovation? Otherwise, don't we just call it implementation?

The Amazon thing was fairly public. I read about it on slashdot, and it's what I thought the submitter was actually talking about.

Re:This is old news... kind of (3, Interesting)

limber (545551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093352)

In Toronto there is a google maps mashup of a similar project, where someone has driven around taking pictures from a truck.

http://toronto.virtualcity.ca/ [virtualcity.ca]

Agreement? (5, Funny)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093210)

They don't need to edit anyone out. Just check your Windows EULA - it's in there right after the section concerning rights to your immortal soul.

Driving directions (3, Insightful)

baffled (1034554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093216)

It could be useful to see a picture of all the turns when getting directions.

Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (5, Funny)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093218)

The government doesn't want you to know this, but here's the secret:

When you're outside... people can see you.

Re:Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093272)

People, as in the the people near you you can also see. Not people, as in billions of people across the earth.

Re:Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093338)

was a time when only people who were near you could talk to you too. isn't modern technology great?

Re:Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (2, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093550)

the the people near you you

So do you suffer from Repetitive Brain Injury or what?

Re:Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (2, Funny)

mj_sklar (888539) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093664)

No, he probably just forgot a comma.

"People, as in the people near you, you can also see."

Note the comma after the first instance of 'you'.

Take my advice... (4, Funny)

gooman (709147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093334)

Stay inside.

Re:Take my advice... (5, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093592)

You're preaching to the choir, my friend. Preaching to the choir.

Re:Shh! Don't spoil the secret! (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093742)

When you're outside... people can see you.


Yes, but except for certain special cases like news reporting on events of public interest, they can't take pictures in which you are recognizable and use them for commercial purposes without your express consent. Legal rights to "privacy" don't only apply to rights to prevent people from seeing you in the first instance.

Wow (0, Troll)

billsoxs (637329) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093222)

If this is really true M$ seems to have no clue as to what to do next. This seems to be a huge $ sink - and something that I just can't see anyone wanting to use.

Re:Wow (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093300)

I would use it. Some of us are really bad with directions and being able to see where you turn (what stores are around and what not) at any given point would be extremely useful to us.

I'm quite excited to see how this pans out.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093414)

Yup, at first I thought satellite imagery would be useless too. Now I use it to imagine what it will look like when I get there so I'll know that I've arrived. Photos from the ground would be all the better.

Re:Wow (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093738)

True. However for that to work it would have to be updated awfully frequently. I remember when Google started doing the satellite photos. It showed my house and area like it looked 5 years before. Then MS started doing it and apparently purchased different photos. Theirs showed the area from about 10-15 years before. As in the Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Barnes and Noble's, Staples, etc. were not there and were just open dirt. So while I agree that it is nice to be able to see something like, "ah, I turn left at the Peete's coffee", you have no guarantee that that coffee outlet will even BE there anymore by the time you go to use the service. They would need to find a way to keep it really current. Probably with submissions from people like bloggers with digital cameras or something...

Re:Wow (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093570)

Well, how about you take all that surface data and map it on to your satellite imagery and building data...

See where I'm going - textured buildings, proper virtual environments? Microsft's Live Local already has buildings, so you could - in theory - link the two and maybe play out a journey through a virtual city. That'd be pretty neat and one day it'll happen, it's just a case of who, when and how.

Re:Wow (1)

Ernesto Alvarez (750678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093648)

Here in Buenos Aires we have something like that, and I use it often enough.
The photos are useful (among other things) for looking the address of a shop or house you know is in a certain block.

Then again, it may be a money sink, I don't (and wouldn't) pay for access to such site, ours is provided by the city government.

(No, you cannot have the link. The last thing I want is getting the map slashdotted. Find it yourself if you're so interested, it's easy).

Re:Wow (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093690)

I don't know about you, but if someone gives me directions verbally I'll get lost. I can follow a map, no problem, or written directions. I can also remember lists and tasks and directions on how to accomplish a task and things like that, but for some reason I've always had a problem remembering driving directions (it some sort of selective short term memory issue or something, I don't know). It's not a matter of not being able to follow a map or not being aware of compass points (If I know generally where I am I never get lost, I've often taking scenic routes without maps when bored while heading back to the office or home after a job, but because I knew the general surrounding geography I've never gotten lost while doing that), it's the inability to simply remember driving directions. Combine that with poorly-marked or unmarked streets, and, well, this kind of service is a breakthrough, regardless of whether or not Microsoft actually invented it. (of course, if Microsoft files for and is awarded a patent on this when there is prior art, I will be pissed)

GPS to me is a godsend, and this kind of thing would be incredible if delivered via wireless. I won't subscribe to a Microsoft service for somthing like this, but if Google or Cingular were to introduce such a service integrated with GPS, it would be something I would subscribe to and use while traveling. :)

You're in public == you have no privacy (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093224)

Cry me a river dude, what makes you think you have the right not to be photographed in public? What makes you think you have the right to tell people they can't photograph your neighbourhood? This is a non-issue, and street level photography tied to satellite appears to be very useful. I have often looked up places I'm intending to go on Google Earth to get an idea of the geography of the location, now I can use street level photography to get some landmarks too. I'm surprised it hasn't been done already and just hope that Microsoft will be collecting data outside the US too.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (3, Informative)

grand_it (949276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093392)

I'm surprised it hasn't been done already

It _has_ been done already, and dismissed. Check out this story [com.com] about an ideantical Amazon's A9 Maps [a9.com] feature.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093436)

So, what you're saying is that one failed attempt is all we need? No-one should ever try again? Tell me, where can I go, right now, and get this kind of service? Oh, and maybe the reason why this failed the first time around had something to do with the technology (and average bandwidth of internet connection) available at the time? Maybe it had something to do with their marketing, or their choice of target audience (americans are not exactly the most early adopters) or maybe Amazon just thought this would be a cheap project and didn't put enough resources into it. The list goes on.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1)

grand_it (949276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093624)

So, what you're saying is that one failed attempt is all we need? No-one should ever try again?

I just added an information on the subject, since many commenters appeared to ingore it.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1)

daff2k (689551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093452)

Of course /everybody/ has the right /not/ to be photographed in public (or private) without consenting to it. Look it up in your country's civil law (unless you are from North Korea or so).

Photographing the neighbourhood on the other hand is generally not unlawful.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093586)

Of course /everybody/ has the right /not/ to be photographed in public (or private) without consenting to it. Look it up in your country's civil law (unless you are from North Korea or so).

And of course you are dead wrong. Otherwise no one could take a picture in public without getting releases from everyone that might be in the frame. Now, using someone's image for profit -- that's a different kettle o' fish.

But being in public means being in PUBLIC. You have no expectation of privacy. Whoa, I can even SEE YOU in public, and TELL ANYONE about it! Including your wife that you were with another woman! If you don't like it, wear a hood.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093714)

You are correct in that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, however, a company attempting to profit from your likeness without your release (public figures and journalist/photographers aside) you could be incurring a liability. Where in this case your being in the picture is purely incidental and not the prime motivation of profit (the geography is the primary intent) is something that would be better debated by a lawyer in a court of law (of course), or better yet, the legislature.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1)

thue (121682) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093636)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_release [wikipedia.org] :


A model release, known in similar contexts as a liability waiver, is a legal document typically signed by the subject of a photograph granting the photographer permission to publish the photograph in one form or another. The legal rights of the signatories in reference to the material is thereafter subject to the allowances and restrictions stated in the release, and also possibly in exchange for compensation paid to the photographed.

Publishing an identifiable photo of a person without a model release signed by that person can result in civil liability for the photographer.

Note that the issue of model release forms and liability waivers is a legal area related to privacy and is separate from copyright. Also, the need for model releases pertains to public use of the photos: i.e., publishing them, commercially or not. The act of taking a photo of someone in a public setting without a model release, or of viewing or noncommercially showing such a photo in private, generally does not create legal exposure, at least in the United States.

The legal issues surrounding model releases are complex and vary by jurisdiction. Photographers working in areas of concern should consult specialized references or professionals to better understand their rights and responsibilities.


I am guessing that the degree to which you are in the focus of the image has something to say. If I am guessing correctly, taking pictures of houses where you happen to be would make model release not apply.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (2, Informative)

blowdart (31458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093736)

Model releases are different, as the model is the main focus of the photo. In the US and the UK members of the public have a very limited scope of privacy rights when they are in public places. This is the key different, model releases come into play for studio shots. Basically, in public, anyone can be photographed without their consent except when they have secluded themselves in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as dressing rooms, restrooms, medical facilities, and inside their homes. See ThePhotographersRight.pdf [krages.com] for more details of the US situation; photoattorney.com [photoattorney.com] has more of the same. You can find an overview of Australian law here [4020.net]

Finally the NYTimes covered a case [nytimes.com] where the subject of a photo in public sued because the photographer use it in an exhibit and was making money. The suit sought an injunction to halt sales and publication of the photograph, as well as $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages and was brought under the NY privacy laws. It failed because the photo was consider art.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093560)

This is a non-issue

Please, won't somebody think of the children! If there are children playing in the streets and they can be identified, it would help the internet predators.

It will help bank robbers plan escape routes without so much suspicious reconnaisance.

Besides, it will help terrorists find crowded places and good spots for street level bombs.

(Posted AC as I don't need better karma.)

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (1)

Chris Graham (942108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093642)

So one day you forget to do up your fly and go out to the shops. Some joker takes a picture of your pink boxers and it ends up on the front page of digg. Is this kind of thing fair? We all need to go out, but there's a big difference between being seen by a few and being potentially seen by an unlimited audience, and it being permanently recorded. If you don't like the boxers example, what if you were photographed talking to someone who turned out to be privately plotting some terror attack, and that this was captured for all to see on a new mapping site. Maybe they just asked for the time, but how would anyone know that? An angry mob could have lynched you before you know what's going on.

Re:You're in public == you have no privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093698)

Uhm. You own the copyright to your own likeness unless you're a person of public interest (like a celeb or a politician). They cannot just go and photograph you individually (or if you're identifiable in a crowd), then publish it without running into a big fat class action suit.

In movies, where you see big crowds, those guys are extras... getting paid, and signing a model release.

You might not have privacy outside, but you always have the right to your own likeness. That doesn't stop just because you're outside. Several years ago I was attending a major event as part of a crowd and someone was taking pictures for the local paper. Afterwards he came up and got my name and phone number so that if they decided to use them they could contact me for a release. They never did run the photo, but that's pretty standard fare for things like that.

You'll notice that on the preview site, atleast, the quality of those photos is so low that you can't uniquely identify anyone.

An anonymous reader? Suspicious (1, Insightful)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093228)

But since when is "Microsoft spying on people" news?

lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093230)

well, this will certainly help stalkers... and I'm on a Mac, crappy M$ anyway...wonder how long it will be before they are sued for violating copyright on various private buildings or other structures like the Chicago Bean

Re:lovely (3, Informative)

SeanMon (929653) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093250)

If a structure is visible from a public way, it is legal to photograph it and publish it; it is not a copyright violation. Exceptions are made, of course, for certain government areas, most notably Area 51.

Re:lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093382)

It is not illegal to take photographs of Area 51. It is illegal to get anywhere near it, because the base and much of the land around it is a military installation.

Photos of it do exist and they're cant be censored by the government.

Re:lovely (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093638)

If a structure is visible from a public way, it is legal to photograph it and publish it; it is not a copyright violation. Exceptions are made, of course, for certain government areas, most notably Area 51.
Fortunately, and long may this right continue. People can also be photographed in this way without recourse too, and those photos can be published without release agreements - upskirt shots and the like are however viewed as an invasion of privacy understandably. If you are outside, you aren't in private. Just ask Britney.

Re:lovely (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093390)

I think women's shelters had complained about stuff like Google Maps use of satellite pictures, for that very reason. I'm not really sure if it's a legitimate complaint but it might help a perp plan a route without looking suspicious trying to find one by being there.

Security? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093236)

Well, forget it. Microsoft has never been much interested in security issues until after the fact.

no more security through obscurity (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093276)

We know where you live and we can see that pitiful lock on your front door. Get serious about security, indeed. :/

Excellent... (1)

RaNdOm OuTpUt (928053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093240)

If they ever come to my house they get pictures of Penguins and signs that say "Windows sucks".

Woe is me ! (3, Insightful)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093242)

I was captured at some undisclosed moment by a camera. Someone who looks for me very hard might be able to see that I was in a public area 10 days ago even tough there's no way to search for anyone, very unlikely that they would recognize me, and I could always hide from the truck if I'm really paranoid. A stalker will stalk you. Not use this.

Re:Woe is me ! (1)

chrism238 (657741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093598)

Whereas you may have been in a public area 10 days ago, I suspect that the OP was photographed in the act of committing a burglary in his own neighborhood! What's that? He denies it? Then I guess there won't be any evidence on the web.

You don't want what? (2, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093246)

I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could.


I would suggest then that you don't go out in public. And maybe you should buy up all the land around your neighborhood and make it private. Or maybe you could just wait for Google to show up and do the same thing, then you'd feel ok about it and think about how empowering it will be for you to be able to browse down to "virtual peeping tom" and see what's going on in your house when you're not around.

(BTW people have this same complaint about Google groups: the posted to usenet before the advent of the pervasive web and the idea that some corporation would come along and violate the usual standards of post expiration was abhorrent. But because it's Google and they won't Do No Evil(*), that's ok. Ask any slashdotter.)

* - For some values of evil that are of a nuisance to Google executive and Google's profits.

I hope this is beta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093248)

Because that has to be the most ugly interface I've seen in a long time. Plus, the views are terrible, as are the controls...
on the fair side, it only cost Microsoft a mere $2billion dollars to write so far =)

Tag 'em! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093252)

The first time we saw it, all we could see was that it had a sign on the side, something about Windows.
I'm not a fan of graffiti but if I had the talent to spray-paint a penguin, I know right where I'd put it.

Easy to do... (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093268)

And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could.

That kind of work is exactly what the 3rd-world "IT" shops excel at. It is a very simple task to describe, and very simple to determine if the work is done correctly. But it is very hard for a computer to do it completely automatically.

How long (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093270)

I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out?
I wouldn't like it much either, but anything that's viewable from a public space is fair game to be videotaped & photographed.

They could edit out most of the people, but they really have no obligation to do so.

I just hope nobody's expensive car gets stolen because some thief is scounting local.live.com to see what's in people's drive ways.

Re:How long (1)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093322)

I just hope nobody's expensive car gets stolen because some thief is scounting local.live.com to see what's in people's drive ways.
Hey, thats pretty cunning.

Re:How long (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093400)

It's far easier for a thief to drive around a rich neighborhood and pick out a car then instead of looking them up in advance online. There's no guarantee that cars that are outside when the picture is taken will be there when the thief shows up. There's also no way to tell from this service if there will be people, other cars, or pets around.

Besides, expensive cars are rarely stolen, since they're easy to trace. Common cars that are a few years old are targeted and stripped down for parts, which is much harder to trace and worth far more money.

Re:How long (1)

Apraxhren (964852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093680)

Mod parent up! I am in the unfortunate circumstance of having a very large house compared to the surrounding neighbors and it is quite visible in Google Earth. The consequences of having my wealthy home visible from space are quite horrific, over the past year my home has been the target of thieves on multiple occasions. I contacted the Police department and they informed me that by using Google Earth it is easy for thieves to see that approaching from the rear of the property, where it is very wooded and concealed, is the best route. Now after I heard that I was quite shocked. Why would any resposible company make it easier for evil doers to commit a crime? I informed the Google corporation almost immediately but they refused to remove the images of my home and chose to endanger the lives of my family. The Google Corporation claims that they are not responsible and perhaps I should invest in a security system, but I continue to refute that in the 9months prior to Google Earth's release my home was never burglarized yet after I have been a victim 4 times. I can only imagine what sinister deeds those that pray on responsible citizens as us are planning. With this new technology the scum of the world can spy on my family, they can see the bus stop where my daughter waits every morning for school! First the prey on my possesions now this is a direct attack on my children!

Amazon/A9 already did this street-by-street thing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093284)

And it was closed down after about a year.

http://news.com.com/Amazon+A9+takes+it+to+the+stre ets/2100-1032_3-5833916.html [com.com]

http://maps.a9.com/ [a9.com]

So it's not 'new'. I think part of the problem is that A9 didn't have their own maps feed.

this is not nefarious (5, Interesting)

astrashe (7452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093286)

I worked for a company that photographed many buildings on the north side of chicago. We used it so that we could pull up photos of apartment buildings when condos went up for sale -- we could put ads online and in print without having to send a photographer out for a new photo.

It's been years since I looked at it, but I used to use a web site that would show you pictures of buildings in paris -- I think it was a yellow pages type site. I had a reservation in a hotel, and used the web site to find out what my hotel looked like, both so I could decide about whether or not to stay there, and also so I'd be able to recognize it when I was walking through the streets. You could look at any specific building in town, and move up and down the street to see what was around it.

I'm inclined to agree with the person who pointed out that people can see things that are outside anyway. At least this takes that public information and puts it into a usable form. If they want to put trucks in the street to take these photos, and if they want to put the fruit of that labor up on the web, more power to them.

I just hope that their web app works with firefox and linux.

Re:this is not nefarious (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093362)

I just hope that their web app works with firefox and linux.
The one linked to in the summary does.

Editing people out: trivial (4, Interesting)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093292)

Long exposures (>60 seconds) will remove most moving objects (cars, trucks, people).

Or with computers, a series of short digital exposures which only keep the content "common" between the frames (moving objects will be in different parts of subsequent frames).

Re:Editing people out: trivial (1)

Xero (19560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093470)

I don't see how either of you above mentioned methods would work from a moving vehicle.

Re:Editing people out: trivial (1)

wyoung76 (764124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093512)

Maybe this is one area where Microsoft can use their Labs software that created 3D models/pictures from flat photos.

Augment the current prototype some more, detect the appropriate control points, and (mostly) eliminate all those other bits which change too much. Granted, this wouldn't work with all those of you who like just standing around outside talking...

Re:Editing people out: trivial (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093630)

It very easy. Just drive through the same area twice or even three times for good measures. Chances are that only stationary objects will only be in one of three. The computer then can take them out through edge(objects) detection.

Neat, but could use improving (1)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093316)

This is a fairly cool app but I wonder, given the amount of money involved in collecting all that data, why they didn't use gyrostabiliized cameras for the side views. It's weird seing buildings tipping sideways. Obviously another cost-cutting method was using front and rear cameras. But this leaves you "driving" toward oncoming traffic half the time. Still, once it becomes advanced enough and the speed-issues are solved, this could be a useful app.

Imagine, say, a zillow-hybrid. A homebuyer could select the items to put on the dash and then drive around neighborhoods while the "instruments" show the average property values, crime rates, tax rates, income levels, school performance, etc.

You wackos! MS doesn't drive around in spy SUVs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093350)

They use black helicopters.

WTF? (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093356)

"Today as we were biking around our neighborhood in a small city we saw a strange vehicle slowly driving around."

And you didn't call the cops?
Seriously.

Because they were obviously terrorists. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093620)

Obviously because you saw something "strange", terrorists must have been involved. They were going to burn, forcibly cross-dress, rape and kill all of you - possibly not in that order. So best to call the military police, just to be safe.

They'll cordon off the entire block, blanket the area with teargas, taser all humans, shoot any pets, arrest the survivors and disappear a select few to 'Gitmo. But that'll be okay - because it'll make you "feel safe" when you see something unusual.

Because, heaven forbid - you don't actually want to talk to anyone strange. That would be, like, negotiating with terrorists - which makes you a traitor! And you're not a traitor.. are you? Remember kids, "safety" first! We don't want to let Yippie-Al-Kie-Aye-Da win this war of terror!

Where's Wally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093364)

This could be fun, let's all follow the cars around wearing tops with red and white stripes and a strange hat. We can then have one big game of 'Where's Wally. :-)

Re:Where's Wally? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093476)

that would be wheres WALDO and im quite sure that in some areas the trucks will have very mysterious "malfunctions" since some folks do not want to be Photographed or Videoed (really how close would they be able to get to say a military base or even military type building or the home of one of our more unstable Citizens. If those types want to be polite they would post signs and or intercept the van before they put an AT4 round into it.

A9's had this feature for a while now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093376)

I've used the street-level photos in A9 for at least the last year or so, and it's proven to be really useful in finding a new place. I think it might only be photos of blocks with businesses on them, but since I live in a mixed commercial-residential area, my house is in there already. No stalkers so far!

A9 cancelled it last month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093458)

When they scaled back a lot of their other services.

Windows live sightseeing and pr0n (3, Funny)

thc69 (98798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093378)

So, when do sightseeing blogs start to pop up, pointing out the rare frame where somebody is caught sunbathing nude?

WEENUR LeBEAU IS TEH SECKS!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093398)

macslash == But, Pirates?

There could be a problem here... (5, Funny)

thewils (463314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093426)

Say honey, how come Dave's truck is parked in our driveway?

As for the news summary (4, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093444)

The Windows site appears to be http://preview.local.live.com/ [live.com] , although since I use a Mac it didn't work properly. I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level. And are they going to edit all the people out? I don't see how they could

Well, it works in Firefox, so chances are it works on a Mac after all, just not on Safari, if that was the one you had problems with.
And yes, the people captured seem to actually be left in.

Not exactly new (3, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093468)

The State of California, for one, has been filming at street level for the last decade. Shots are used for court cases, reconstruction of roads when wiped out by mudslide, etc. What...you've never taken a photo in your neighborhood and posted it on the 'net?

The comment about it happening around the world is most likely crap... MS is already in enough trouble without sticking their neck in yet another noose.

common sense please . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093474)

. . . screw the privacy issue. This is kewl.

OH NOES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093486)

Somewhere your street is on a map! Eeeep!
Your house is visible from the street! Eeep!
Your mailbox is visible from the street! It has a number on it! People will know how to send you meil! Eeep!
A real-estate agent somewhere once took a picture of your house! THEY KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!
And you're in the phone book! Strangers can call you! Eeep!
There's a picture somewhere of you in a high school yearbook! Your classmates can point at you and laugh! Eeep!
And because this is a Microsoft project - it ABSOLUTELY MUST be evil! Eeepp!

OH DEAR GOD, TERRORISTS ARE GOING TO EAT YOUR CHILDREN. ALIVE. WITH BBQ SAUCE. AND ONIONS. MMMM ONIONS!!!!!11oneone eleven.

In conclusion: Get over yourself, you whiny bitch. Quit projecting worst-case disaster scenarios onto yourself. Unplug your television, stop watching sensationalist news programs ("Tonight: Bananas - a potential deathtrap hiding in YOUR fridge? Could you be in DANGER?") The boogymen really aren't out to get you.

Understand that most crime is a crime of opportunity - like walking past your house on their regular schedule and seeing that you've left the front door open. Or leaving the box for your new DVD player on the kerb, proudly advertising that you've got a bunch of shiny new stuff. Almost nobody does research for their crimes. Although if they do to the point of looking your home up on the internet - the chances are that (1) you already know them and (2) you've got bigger problems with organized crime (and they're likely to drive by your place to do recon in person), the internet is just an additional information source.

At the risk of getting modded down, it's cool... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093488)

I think that's rather cool to be honest.

We've got satellite, we've got birds eye now from Live Local, and I reckon that the street level stuff is awesome - just the thing for driving directions. Imagine being able to send someone a bunch of shots showing where turnings are, landmarks etc. Neat stuff

While I can understand the privacy aspects concern some, I was under the impression that when you're in public, you can pretty much be photographed by anyone regardless. Ok, so this is Microsoft, but how many times do we show up in the background on people's holiday snaps and videos, on the news? When Google Earth appeared, how many people we zooming right in to see if they could make themselves out in their gardens?

So what's the deal with you appearing anonymously on a sidewalk in some road mapping software - it just means that you were in a certain place at an undetermined time? How do you see that being abused? Is it a general feeling towards all ground-scale mapping (Ordanence Survey in the UK have been doing this for years), or just anti-MS?

Either way, I have to say that I like the results and hopefully something like this will appear globally soon, avec or sans people...

Oh...NOW you're all afraid? (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093496)

The average North American is captured 26 times every day by a surveillance camera, whether operated by a business or government. In London, the rate is far higher given the huge amount of cameras. And yet people demand even more cameras in some misguided belief it makes them safer. So are you upset by the fact that Microsoft may have your image (or an image of a house) or the principle in general? Me thinks its more the former.

Uh. You're walking in public. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093548)

You're in "public." That term means that other people can take photos of you. Cope with it.

Microsoft isn't doing anything wrong here, not by any stretch of the imagination. Besides, it's not like you can search-by-face or something ridiculous like that... what information are you afraid will get out?

Cover story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093572)

That's just the cover story, the truth is that they will register copyright on every image that they take of all the houses and building and will charge a licence fee if anyone takes, or already has, a photo of those.

That's not all! (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093584)

If you go to google maps, and choose the satellite view, and go to my road, you can totally see my car in my driveway!!!

I mean, how dare they?! Taking a photo of something in a public place*, right out in the open, then putting it on the web! I should sue!!!

(* Note to pedants - no, my driveway isn't public, but it's open to the street and plainly visible from the pavement)

Privacy concerns? Don't make me laugh. If they start sending people into private buildings with cameras, get back to me. In the meantime, kdawson, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for allowing such a spin to be put on this story.

Real question (1)

gnu-sucks (561404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093596)

The real question is, have you been able to see yourself yet in the preview web site? That would be a real trip!


:watches thinkgeek t-shirt sales fly through the roof:

This was pitched to public safety long ago (2, Insightful)

kherr (602366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093622)

I used to work in the public safety industry and at trade shows at least five years ago companies started showing up, hawking exactly this. The sales pitch was that they'd drive these vans around to take street-level photos of the city so the fire or police departments could have these views when dispatching to a call. Kind of silly use of the technology back then, not sure how successful the companies were.

It seems maybe these companies might have sold Microsoft on the idea. Perhaps there were a whole bunch of data capture vans and no customer base. In the age of Google Earth and MSN Virtual Earth maybe spending money collecting these images are worthwhile. Or maybe just a waste of Microsoft's money.

A bit too late to complain (2, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093628)

A3 (Amazon's search engine) has had street level photographs for a couple of years now. It is possible to enter an address by zip code and then see the picture of that address as it looks from the side of moving vehicle. It's interesting and useful that MS might also do it, but it isn't new or original.

This is already around (2, Interesting)

twistah (194990) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093632)

Amazon had something very similiar in A9 Maps. You could view either side of most streets in major cities. They also had a program where you would sign up and, given the name of a business and a few pictures, pick one out that best represented the storefront. You could see where they were going with this.

However, I just checked on it and it's discontinued. This is strange, considering the immense amount of effort this must have taken. I wonder if Microsoft didn't buy their data? If not, someone must have a use for it, as a Windows Live competitor if nothing else.

Try using Firefox on the Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17093652)

Firefox worked fine for me on a Mac.

When I see that van... (1)

Elbowgeek (633324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093662)

There's gonna be some serious mooning goin' on...

Outdoors = no reasonable expectation of privacy (1)

Anti-Trend (857000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093672)

I'm definitely not a lawyer, but when you're wandering around outdoors I'm pretty sure you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Unless they figure out a way to drive those vans into our restrooms, I don't see it as a huge problem.

That being said, I think it's a gimmicky piece of crap, and honestly I can't foresee it being useful for anything Google Earth can't already do better. Yes, yes, I know, that makes me sound like a Google fanboy. But to me, it really looks like Microsoft is trying to steal mindshare much more than actually provide something worthwhile.

Re:Outdoors = no reasonable expectation of privacy (1)

chrism238 (657741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093722)

but when you're wandering around outdoors I'm pretty sure you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Unless they figure out a way to drive those vans into our restrooms,


Yes, especially those outdoor restrooms.

Pic of the van (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093686)

If you look in store windows (SW corner of 3rd and Stewart, for example) you can see the reflection of the van. Just looks like your average suspicious white van.

Yeah.. This isn't even illegal (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093710)

They have every right to take pictures along the road. Its the law as long as they aren't on any private roads. Plus, I can't see any problems between this and google earth. Google Earth has done the same thing. http://newsads.blogspot.com/2006/09/google-earth-s hows-topless-sunbather.html [blogspot.com]

This is NEWS? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17093726)

I asked him if this was Microsoft's answer to Google Earth, and he indicated that it was. There seems to be very little about this on the Web, and I found no mention of Microsoft's collection of this sort of detailed street level data.

Whaaa? I hear about this on the news over a week ago, and even saw a demo of the software navigating a few of the largest cities... Remember, this is mainstream, national, news, where it takes them 6 months to mention new computer viruses.

This nefarious activity you're so concerned about is the worst-kept secret EVER.

A quick search yeilds more results than you could possibly read through: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=Microso ft+Google+Earth&btnG=Search+News [google.com]

I'm not sure I want my neighborhood viewable on the Web from ground level.

Then cover it with a tarp, cut off all public streets going in and out, and perform background checks of everybody just to be sure...

Short of that, you're out of luck. When the Microsoft guy jumps over your fence to take pictures of your pool, THEN you might have something...
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