The Aspen Movie Map

It is my theory that most good ideas for technology come from artists, hobbyists and students.

A friend, Michael Naimark, created an amazing art project at MIT back in 1978-1980 called the Aspen Moviemap. He used a 16mm film camera to take images in and around Aspen Colorado, transferred them to Video Laser Disc (remember those) to allow a viewer to have the experience of wandering through Aspen. At each intersection you could turn in any direction you chose. From any position, you could look in any direction. It was a truly an impressive piece of work back then. Even today, its impressive to see.

We, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Michael should feel pretty good. Yesterday, Google unveiled a new feature to maps.google.com called Street View, which allows you to wander through the streets of Palo Alto, CA and other areas in much the way that Aspen Moviemap did nearly thirty years ago. While Google's implementation is a little rough around the edges, it has the advantage of being network accessible and having the incredible resources of Google behind it, so it has already grown beyond the scale of the Michael's original project. However, the original inspiration is clearly still in there.

Congratulations Michael!

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Roger Meike, Senior Director of Area 51 and Director of Operations Sun Labs

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