The idea is that on top of the fairly standard way that online yellow pages work users can view thumbnails of the actual storefront, like the one above - but there's more: You can take a trip down the street! "Walk" to the left or right of the shop and view other storefronts to get a feel for the neighborhood. At first it seems (at least to me) a bit gimmicky but then when I thought about a bit more, perhaps not. Seeing a tatty disreputable storefront would put me off going to buy something but seeing a nice street with other interesting stuff might well make me want to visit - not gimmicky, useful. Follow the title link for more.
From Chris Sherman's SearchDay article
"We allow people from their computer to look at the street, to walk to the left, to walk to the right, to see the neighborhood, to see parking—it's virtually like you're there," said Udi Manber, president of A9.com. "Pictures get you information faster than any other way. Very often you remember a place but not its name. This is a very easy way to find it."
To create this system, A9 developed technology that combined digital cameras, GPS location systems and other hardware, and equipped vehicles with this technology to capture images of buildings and geotag them with location information. The company then hired drivers to cover "tens of thousands of miles" to acquire images, according to Manber.
Further Reading on A9's Visual Yellow Pages
- Silicon Beat - Amazon's Yellow Pages play
- Techdirt - A9 Adds Local Search You Can See
- [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/27/technology/27amazon.html[/url]NYT - For Local Searchers, Amazon Adds Photos to Yellow Pages[/url]
- News.com - Amazon search pictures your destination
- Om Malik - A9 Lets the Pictures Do the Talking
- John Battelle - News: A9 Debuts "Yellow Pages" - Now *That's* Local
Love the feature, but the tech they use to do it is even cooler...