Rumors have suggested that Apple has acquired 3D mapping firm C3 Technologies. While much of the early demos showed C3's ability to create realistic looking 3D maps, the company had also been working on both street view and interior views prior to their acquisition.
BrightSideOfTheNews reported in a January, 2011 article that the company was creating street level imagery as well using the same technology:
In addition to 3D maps, C3 also makes awesome street level imagery captured using "an advanced multiple camera system with overlapping viewing angles to capture the entire surroundings in stereo."
Beyond street level views, the company was also offering interior panoramas as shown in this early promotional photo:
As well as increasing its geographic range, C3 is expanding into interior settings. With a special camera rig, they can also create a 3D model of the interior of a building using the same photo stitching they use with their aerial or street level maps. Businesses have to request C3 to come in and create such an inside map of their facilities, so don’t expect these 3D indoor maps to become ubiquitous anytime soon. Still, the technology is ready and available, so we’re bound to see at least a few examples in the months ahead.
Obviously, both street-level work and interior shots are particularly resource intensive. In fact, the interior views are said to have required businesses to invite the company in to make create the images. It's not clear if Apple will use the technology to this degree when they release it. At a minimum, however, street view data would be required to make it match up feature for feature with Google's technology which presently powers iOS Maps.
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