Yandex.Haritalar + Yandex.PanoramaDec 09
Yandex, the giant search engine of Russia came to Turkey in 2011(organized its opening in September, 20) and open Turkey office located in Maslak, İstanbul. In short time, they accomplished several important tasks related to Turkey and Turkish including, search in Turkish, map service(originally map data taken from NAVTEQ), panoramic street view service, traffic density service, mail service in Turkish and many others with the experience gained from mainly Russia. With the help of excessive advertisement, they entered the market really fast and move along with the same speed nowadays. So many newspapers, news sites, tech sites and bloggers mentioned about Yandex at least one time in September-November period. I also want to talk about them in this article specifically about their panoramic street view tool; Yandex.Panorama or Yandex.Haritalar with panoramic street view extension(which I called Yandex.Haritalar + Yandex.Panorama).
I worked on a similar project(immersive street view) for 6 months, 1 year ago, and I can say that I got some solid know-how about it. So, I want to say some things about the Yandex version. First of all, they used custom made camera to take immersive pictures which is a very clever way to do it, because by doing it you get a full control on every settings about cameras and resulting images which gives you huge flexibility. They used cameras having resolution at least 10 Megapixels which result incredibly sharp and clear images.
They disabled to look down with mouse while navigating which I like more than Google Street View version(they are trying to synthesize pixels from neighbors to cover the presence of street view car which they screwed up the most). But, while it comes to view the sky, I think Google did the right thing to blur most of the view above certain vertical view angle while Yandex has full view to the sky. This is mostly redundant data which nearly have negligible effect on navigation through the streets. Yandex has another superiority on Google by having images at exact points where there are a crossroad or an intersect location at streets. I mean when there is a 3-way option: to turn right, to turn left or go straight(of course there is going backward I skip it), Yandex mostly take this image in exact intersection point while Google may or may not take it in there. This is important for ease of use, better navigation and knowing where exactly you are(you can lost your way in Google because of that).
Let’s skip comparison and talk about Yandex only, they did the face and license plate blurring(obeying the laws of Turkey) with high performance, they may have much false positives, but it is so much better than having false negatives in this particular case. They also used tiles to load images in both first loading and zooming cases like every street view application should do. Furthermore, I’m surprised by how they managed to accomplish nearly all of the streets of İstanbul in 80 days and in parallel streets of Ankara in 33 days. I think, they benefited again from their past experience in subject and systems which already exist in company. You may think that “how can he know so much details about their system?”, I know these because they have very detailed description of their algorithms and systems in their company page that I liked very much. Consequently, I enjoyed navigating Yandex.Panorama in both application perspective and technical perspective.