Stephen Lawler and the Virtual Earth team have created an addictively interactive 3D world that is poised to reinvent our view of advertising, gaming, weather/traffic reporting, instant messaging and more.

Why you should listen

Microsoft's Stephen Lawler offers a tour of Virtual Earth that not only reveals the power and potential of the software itself, but also gives a global glimpse of the new virtual frontier of digital globes, the 3D Web and the metaverse.

Lawler also explores the enormous effort it takes to create the fluid blending and shifting between the multiple views and resolutions of Virtual Earth. From the satellites and airplanes that gather photo data for a top-down view to the ground vehicles and headgear-wearing pedestrians who canvas the ground for an eye-level perspective -- all of it represents a monumental effort of logistics and mechanics.

What others say

“The cool bird's-eye views were enough of a draw in the previous version, but the 3D is downright addictive. This probably would be enough to please most people even without the local search, maps, and wealth of extra features.” — PC Magazine

Stephen Lawler’s TED talks

Stephen Lawler on the TED Blog

A tour of MS Virtual Earth, on TED.com

June 21, 2007

Stephen Lawler, from Microsoft, takes us on a tour through the company’s new Virtual Earth project, which is, basically, an attempt to turn the entire planet into an interface to the web. Collecting and synthesizing massive amounts of data — bird’s-eye views, street-level photos, 3D wireframes — the Virtual Earth team are building a world […]

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Quotes from Stephen Lawler

We’re so constrained by browsing the Web, remembering URLs, saving favorites. As we move to search, we rely on the relevance rankings, the Web matching, the index crawling. But we want to use our brain! We want to navigate, explore, discover information.
Stephen Lawler
TED2007 • 260K views Jun 2007
Jaw-dropping, Informative