I have had many comments from teachers about how much better the Bing maps look compared to other mapping solutions (most recently at the North Otago Principals’ Association Teaching and Learning Conference on Oamaru).
In New Zealand, the “Maps” option doesn’t appear on the search results top menu so you either have to change your country to US or type the url http://bing.com/maps directly in the browser address bar.
You then have to “Get more from Bing Maps” by clicking on the Try it now! > link. If you don’t see this message, try the “Welcome” button at the bottom.
This will require the installation of Microsoft Silverlight if you don’t already have it. If you PC is severely locked down (i.e. you can’t install any software yourself) then you might have to get your IT administrator to install this for you.
The map page will now look something like this (your current location is estimated from your Internet Service Provides IP Address)…
A sample Photosynth for your location, if available, is highlighted next to the temperature reading.
You can view other Photosynth’s by clicking on the “Map Apps” at the bottom of the page and selecting Photosynth from the many other geo based applications that can be added to the map (try the Twitter feeds also although I take no responsibility for what people might be saying;-)
I usually demonstrate this using the Colosseum in Rome http://www.bing.com/maps/explore/?org=aj#5003/0.6002=q:rome:nelat:-43.4174843248435:nelong:172.984512328812:swlat:-43.6795453993899:swlong:172.55192565889:nosp:0:adj:0/5872/style=auto&lat=qzfh8b&lon=j16y34&alt=79.063942&z=19&h=356.76612&pid=5874
If you are using a laptop, navigating the map and Photosynth works much better with a mouse as you can pan and use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. The map will automatically switch to the high altitude view when you have zoomed in far enough. Select the Photosynth map app and you you should see this after clicking on one of the green icons (start with one that is already featured with a preview image)
Select the Dive in” link to open the Photosynth. You can navigate around the inside of the Colosseum by either dragging from the centre image rotate arrows in any direction or click and drag from any location and release the mouse button to reorientation the view on the currently selected image.
Don’t forget to try the overhead view to see where all the pictures were taken from and click on one of the images to see the model rotate around to the correct perspective.
Finally, try creating your own Photosynth at http://photosynth.net