Three-dimensional models pop up on Microsoft Virtual Earth

Posted by Mark Raby

Redmond (WA) - Microsoft has launched a preview of "Virtual Earth 3DVIA", a new addition to the software giant's online mapping service that lets users create realistic 3D models.

The new platform comes as the result of a partnership between Microsoft and Dassault Systemes, a company that has been specializing in 3D graphics software since 1981.  3DVIA is one of the company's brands that deals with user sharing of custom 3D designs.

Through the integration with Virtual Earth, users will be able to create virtual models of their house, or any structure for that matter, and publish them on their own custom online maps.  These maps can be shared publicly or with friends.

Microsoft says the technology enables realistic models, with the ability to customize textures, colors, depth, and other specifications through a set of proprietary tools.

Google Earth, within the past year, has been adding detailed 3D representations of major landmarks and cities like New York and San Francisco.  The difference with Microsoft's project is the users are the ones actually creating the 3D visuals, not Microsoft.

The new platform is currently available as a "technology preview" and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Live website.