The US Patent & Trademark Office have recently published a patent application from Google that reveals their intention of upgrading Google Maps with a series of new user interface refinements including a new compass navigation control interface. If you're a fan of Google Maps' Street View feature like I am, then you'll be happy to know that turning corners will be made a lot easier whenever Google gets this upgrade out the door.
One aspect of Google's invention summary statement states that "a need exists for an interface that informs the user when additional views of a geographic point of interest are available as well as for allowing a user to navigate the different views. A user interface that can provide a visual indication of which direction e view is currently oriented and that provides a graceful transition and visual continuity between different orientations would be particularly useful."
Google Introduces their New Compass Navigation Control Interface
Google's patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates a user interface (100) that includes a compass navigation control interface (120) for navigating imagery (102).
According to exemplary aspects of Google's invention, a compass navigation control interface ("Compass interface") is displayed overlying imagery. The compass interface can be used to rotate the imagery among a plurality of canonical views associated with the imagery. For instance, the compass interface can be used to navigate among the north view, south view, east view, and west view associated with the imagery. A user can interact with the compass interface by clicking on the compass interface with user manipulable cursor or by interacting with the compass interface through a touch screen.
The compass interface can be initially located anywhere in the imagery based on a preset location, which can be changed by the user through a user interface element, such as a preference pane, menu, or other suitable user interface element. In a particular implementation, the user can select and drag the compass interface to any location on imagery. The compass interface can be translucent to allow the imagery to be viewed by a user through the navigation control interface.
It should also be noted that the user interface also includes an icon 104 for changing the type of imagery displayed on the new user interface. The icon can be used to change the imagery from the 3D oblique view imagery depicted in FIG. 1 to street map imagery, satellite imagery, street view imagery, or other type of imagery.
Google's patent FIG. 2 noted above depicts a close up view of the compass interface.
The New Google Maps Rotation Control Icon & Compass Needle
According to Google, the compass interface includes a plurality of static rotation control icons 122 and 124. Rotation control icon 122 includes a curved arrow pointed in the clockwise direction. Rotation control icon 124 includes a curved arrow pointed in the counterclockwise direction. A user can rotate imagery about an axis perpendicular to imagery by interacting with the rotation control icons. For instance, a user can click or select rotation control icon (122) to rotate the imagery in the clockwise direction among the canonical views associated with the imagery, such as from a north view to a west view. A user can click or select rotation control icon (124) to rotate imagery in the counterclockwise direction among the canonical views associated with the imagery such as from a north view to an east view.
The new compass interface further includes a direction indicating portion in the form of a compass needle 126. The compass needle includes an "N" designation to indicate that the compass needle is facing the north direction. Other designations are also suitable. In addition, the compass needle can point in other directions, such as in the east direction, west direction, south direction, or other direction. The compass needle rotates synchronously with the imagery such that the compass needle provides an indication of the direction the user is oriented when navigating the imagery.
A user can rotate imagery by selecting one of the rotation control icons or by selecting and dragging the compass needle to a desired rotation. As the imagery rotates in response to user interaction with compass interface, the imagery synchronously rotates with the compass needle. In this manner, the compass interface provides a simplified user interface for rotation control of imagery among a plurality of canonical views associated with the imagery.
A New Google Maps Tilt Control
In a particular implementation of Google's invention, the user interface can include a tilt control for tilting imagery. The compass needle can be tilted synchronously with the tilting of the imagery such that the tilt angle of the compass needle provides an indication of tilt angle of the imagery to the user.
Google's patent FIG. 3 depicts an exemplary navigation control interface exhibiting rotation control functionality; FIG. 5 depicts an exemplary navigation control interface exhibiting restore functionality.
Finally – The Ability to Easily Rotate Street Views
Google's patent FIGS. 6 and 7 noted below illustrate rotation control functionality for exemplary street view imagery using the compass interface. Maybe it's just me, but I think that the Google images are backwards. I think that they sholud be reversed so that you can see how the turn is made. But I'll keep the sequence as Google presents it in their patent filing.
In Google's patent FIG. 7 we see a depiction of street view imagery 180 after it has been rotated to a second canonical view associated with the street view imagery. In particular, FIG. 7 depicts street view imagery after it has been rotated to a view generally perpendicular to the predominate road 185 depicted in the street view imagery. The compass needle of the compass interface has also been rotated to depict the compass direction associated with the second canonical view of the street view imagery.
I love Google Maps street view and often go to cities like Montreal, Rome or elsewhere just to take a look at their cityscapes and key tourist areas. It's a great way to determine where to go on a holiday or to see where your out-of-country, Province or State friends reside. But turning corners in street views don't always go that smoothly. Google's new rotate street views UI feature may save the day (Ha!).
New Navigation UI Flowchart
Google's patent application was originally filed under serial number 287173 in Q4 2011. Patent Bolt's report is based on Google's "Detailed Description" segment presented in their application. To review Google's 33 patent claims, see their patent filing. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of the upgrade to Google Maps is unknown at this time.
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patent Bolt presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patent Bolt reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.