When Microsoft launched the new version of Flight Simulator, it made a great deal of noise about its extensive use of photogrammetry throughout the game. Photogrammetry, if you haven’t heard the word before, is the process of gathering reliable data about the physical world through various forms of photography and electromagnetic imaging. If you have a data set consisting of the same town photographed from different heights at known altitudes, you can use this information to correctly calculate the heights and sizes of objects.
This data set can be retrieved from the cloud and is built using Azure and information gathered via Bing Maps. There are 341 fully modeled cities in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and that’s a significant achievement — a genuine leap forward compared with anything any simulator has tried to do before.
Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft just isn’t very good at doing this kind of thing yet. End-users have begun to notice that the data sets available from Google are better. In some cases, they’re much better. It’s not that the Bing sets are necessarily bad — reviewers and players alike were excited by the unparalleled detail, even if the game’s notable bugs have also generated their share of headlines.
In a plaintive post titled “Can we talk about photogrammetry quality,” user MegaRiceBall734 writes:
"In regard to photogrammetry, we often talked about number of cities or places that have it on Bing vs. Google. However, when I was examining the same area on both platforms, to my surprise (or not), the quality of photogrammetry on Bing is a lot worse, both in texture quality and polygon counts. This is probably why sometimes I feel the autogen is even because the polygon count could be higher and the texture is definitely sharper."