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SMX LoMo Keynote: Gur Kimchi

Gur Kimchi, Principle Architect for Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, also spoke Thursday morning at the SMX Local & Mobile [1] conference in San Francisco.

Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth
Gur Kimchi, Principal Architect, Microsoft Virtual Earth

Gur provided a lot of demonstrations of existing and upcoming features from the Virtual Earth teams:

Photosynth & Virtual Earth [2]

One of the interesting tidbits he mentioned was how Microsoft had acquired Caligari [3], a 3d modeling and animation company to expand defining realworld understanding within the virtual mapping apps. He provided a lot of examples of how Virtual Earth understands 3d projections from flat map data and can even plot streets beneath buildings in satellite/aerial photos. Unlike some top apps like Google Maps, Virtual Earth even corrects the Escher Effect in these pix.

According to him, the platform is capable of “indexing everything in the world”. He was referring to the real, physical, locative world, and mashing up other, virtual information with it.

He also stated that the key to monetization of it was to eventually create “deeply contextual advertising” which is highly relevant to the consumer — this is the key to ad effectiveness. “Almost mind-reading,” as he put it.

Regarding the mapping/display of sensitive security subjects, Gur stated that “…we never show critical infrastructure. The CIA tells us what to avoid (in America).” He also spends a lot of time meeting with government representatives from around the world in order to designate and avoid such sensitive areas.

The demonstrations were impressive and almost overwhelming. He showed a lot of content from Photosynth [4] which we’ve seen before elsewhere, but it was still intriguing in the context of how it might be applied to search interfaces for mapping. Greg Sterling suggested that the audience might find it a struggle to understand how all the eye-candy could apply to search marketing, but I think it was still interesting to everyone to hear opinions from Gur, since he clearly is something of a visionary in the future of innovative mapping and user interfaces.