Microsoft's Windows Live Local armada is striking back against Google's Streetview fleet with all the technological terror they can find. Check this Chevy Tahoe's intimidating top: six huge cameras, two GPS antennas and what could be a laser rangefinder on top, all connected with giant cables. Google's gear may not be as impressive, and there's a fair chance the Chevy SUVs could cream the Colbalt in a head on collision. You know, if it ever came to vehicle on vehicle battle. We know that Google may be using more than one company to get pictures of all US streets. Microsoft is probably doing the same, but we can compare between these two autobots.
Cars Both companies use Chevy cars. Google is using Cobalt LS sedans, which may not be as chic as the Immersive Media VW Beetles but at least consume less than the gas-guzzling Tahoes. The Cobalt LS has a 2.2L engine, doing 25MPG in the city. The Tahoe is much less effective: even the smallest 4.8L V8-engine Tahoe LS can only manage 16MPG, according to the manufacturer -not the ideal car to do street shots.
Winner: while none of them are using Smart cars, Google clearly wins on the carbon footprint front.
Gear This Windows Live Local SUV is provided by Facet Tech, a company that uses a technology called SightMap. The company claims theirs is a "next-generation" 360 VR solution with extremely precise geo-mapping. They say they already have 400 terabytes of image data with 1 billion geo-referenced high resolution images, so Microsoft could have licensed loads of pics already.
The equipment atop the Tahoe, with its enormous lenses, presumably high-quality sensors and laser rangefinder, looks amazing but is not necessarily better than Google's simpler setup. We don't know exactly what Google is using, but it may be something similar to the 11-camera sphere of Immersive Media, the company that was providing VR shots in NYC.