Microsoft adds 3D modeller to Virtual Earth

Microsoft adds 3D modeller to Virtual Earth

Partnership with Dassault Systemes to integrate 3DVIA technology

Microsoft has teamed up with Dassault Systemes to launch a 3D modelling application for its Virtual Earth mapping platform.

Virtual Earth 3DVIA has been released as a technology preview to allow community feedback before the next release of the product.

The free download allows users to create realistic 3D models of buildings and other structures, and share them through Virtual Earth and online communities.

"Virtual Earth 3DVIA users will be able to build a world that mixes their future projects and ideas with real-life places, buildings and structures," said Lynne Wilson, senior vice president and general manager of 3DVIA at Dassault Systemes.

"We have created a new level of realism within Virtual Earth that provides an unrestricted freedom for creativity and innovation."

Wilson explained that a user could design a 3D model of their house, favourite building or any structure, then select from different visualisation options, textures and colours to give the model a style of its own.

Users can upload the 3D models to Virtual Earth, specifying an address or neighbourhood in which the model will be displayed.

Designers can also add their models to collections, and share them with friends and colleagues through various web communities.

"Our alliance with Dassault Systemes, which has 26 years of experience in 3D modelling, will bring a new level of realism to Virtual Earth," said Stephen Lawler, general manager of Virtual Earth at Microsoft.

Microsoft hopes that 3DVIA will help Virtual Earth better compete with rival Google Earth, which has a similar system called Google SketchUp.