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Motorists in Melbourne, Australia, can now navigate their city in 3-D using the Whereis navigation system, produced by Sensis, Australia’s leading directories publisher. Whereis is rolling out 3-D city models this week. The product focuses on Melbourne’s central business district.

While different in several important aspects, this product brings to mind the broader emerging category of immersive experiences in directory and mapping applications. (The differences include in-car device versus online, 3-D versus actual photos, navigation versus local business search.)

We’ve seen directory publishers, including European Directories, launch street level navigation experiences in their IYPs using actual photos and the ability to pan 360 degrees. Of course Google has street view (where I was able to virtually drive to the front door of my house — a bizarre experience), and in Canada, Canpages has launched its own street level experience.

Everyscape offers technology that media companies can use to build their own immersive directory products.

It Italy, Seat SpA was a bit ahead of its time with its Visual product. But now, as consumers are trained to expect street views and satellite photos, perhaps they will embrace a similar experience in local search, assuming the process is seamless and it adds real value to the search result.

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