Google is not alone in reprocessing Street View imagery into complementary color anaglyps to enable 3D viewing experience. Norc, a Romanian based mapping portal with extensive inventory of street view like imagery covering major cities in Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Hungary, has also started serving anaglyph 3D view option. The effect is much more refined than imagery provided by Google. The example shows the Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland.
This is a very crude way of enabling 3D experience but also the easiest to implement. Microsoft with its Photosynth experiment is trying alternative, “modelled 3D” view, based on multi-image processing but also with mixed results. I don’t know if you realise but there is already a technology that enables viewing pictures and movies in 3D without glasses. An Australian company TriDef patented several years ago a process of converting pictures into a proprietary 3D format for viewing on special screens. I have seen it in action and it is a very natural looking 3D effect but it didn’t grab attention of mass audience as yet. If of interest, you can purchase from them software or a DVD player that will convert any movie into stereoscopic 3-D in real-time to view with special glasses on your current TV set or monitor.
All that money spent on technology to replicate the nature yet not many realise that human brain is actually perfectly capable of processing a single, flat image into 3-demensional perspective and you don’t even need any glasses for the full effect! It is a natural 3D perspective effect, exactly how you see everything around you – not the kind you see in the movies where things “jump at you” or “float in the air”. You only need to know how to look. It is great fun to view old, even black and white pictures in 3D. Movies and documentaries on wide screen HD TV also look great. This is a prime case of those “mysteries of human eyesight and brain” which cannot be patented and commercialised so, no one is really interested in telling about. I meant to write a post on this topic a while ago - I do my best to do it in the nearest future! For now just enjoy artificial effects.
First spotted on Google Maps Mania: Street View in 3-D Gets a Competitor