Skip to Content

Virtual Streetscapes

Picking up where Google Earth leaves off, EveryScape depicts streets and building interiors with photorealistic detail
October 15, 2007

With Google Earth, users can “fly” from a satellite view of the planet to aerial views of their homes. But while the program can be customized to include, say, photos of storefronts or 3-D renderings of buildings, it provides no consistent experience at street level.

EveryScape, a startup in Waltham, MA, hopes to pick up where Google Earth leaves off, providing photo­realistic streetscapes and even views inside buildings. The company plans to let users submit photos that it will integrate into a consistent 3‑D representation. Its revenues would come from retailers who want to add depictions of their stores’ interiors. CTO and founder Mok Oh, a computer scientist, says the company is betting that people want to explore the world from the ground level. “Getting there is not what you want,” he says. “Being there is what you want.”

The technology starts with pano­ramic photos taken by company photographers or contributed by subscribers, who use conventional digital single-lens reflex cameras. ­EveryScape’s servers construct a 3‑D environment that allows users to move from one panoramic perspective to the next. In a company demo, users can explore Union Square in San Francisco, enter Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, move through the lounge viewing it from different perspectives, and exit again for a dizzy­ing look at the night sky above the Dewey Monument. Oh had already founded a business that used an earlier version of the technology to enable vivid virtual tours of high-end hotels and travel destinations. He now envisions expanding the idea to virtually reproduce the entire world.

Derek Hoiem, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-­Champaign, finds EveryScape’s technology promising. He says it would be better with more freedom of movement–if the user could walk down a virtual street rather than swiveling to explore a pano­rama and then moving forward a fixed distance to the next panorama. But he adds that the software gives users a good approximation of motion, and that they will find its immersive quality appealing.

Company: EveryScape, Waltham, MA
Funding: $5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, New Atlantic Ventures, and Launchpad
Technology: Software to fuse panoramic photos into virtual streetscapes
Founder and CTO: Mok Oh, computer scientist and founder of SuperTour, which provides virtual tours
CEO: Jim Schoonmaker

EveryScape launched this fall, depicting parts of Aspen, Boston, Miami, and New York. Retail stores that pay for inclusion will be graphi­cally rendered; users will enter the virtual stores, view merchandise, and click links to get to the stores’ Web pages. CEO Jim ­Schoonmaker says ­EveryScape plans to add more features, such as the ability to buy merchandise inside a store by clicking on a display item. EveryScape is likely to face competition from Google (see “Second Earth,” July/August 2007), but the search giant wouldn’t comment on its plans.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.