The coolest new digital maps

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The first videoguide to hotels has, a European Web agency for booking hotels, has filmed videos of several hotels in Paris and has embedded them in a Google map of the city. You can click on a hotel and get a virtual tour of its amenities, helping you confirm if the hotel deserves its star rating. Reviews are pulled in from other travelers via, and a Google mashup map is used, to help you see where any given hotel is located relative to the major attractions in the city. While the videos have been edited in an amateurish way, they provide high-quality images of what the hotel rooms, lobbies, and exteriors truly look like. Check it out here. (Link via Vijay Dandapani)

Future digital maps will offer three dimensional simulations of cities. Consider the new 3-D simulation of ancient Rome, called RomeReborn1.0, that will soon be made available to the public by its inventors at the University of Virginia. This digital model of the city will reproduce for tourists "on satellite-guided handsets and 3-D orientation movies in a theater to be opened near the Colosseum...what the Colosseum, the Forum, the imperial palaces on the Palatine once looked like," according to this Reuters story in the L.A. Times. What's more, "When in virtual Rome, visitors will be able do to even more than ancient Romans did: They can crawl through the bowels of the Colosseum, filled with lion cages and primitive elevators, and fly up for a detailed look at bas-reliefs and inscriptions placed atop triumphal arches," according to this Associated Press article, via USAToday/World Hum.

Meanwhile, Seattle's Pike Place Market is a popular tourist attraction that receives loving treatment in a new interactive map by the Los Angeles Times. See it here. It's a precursor, I think, to the types of maps you'll someday find in digital guidebooks, which travelers will download and read on their personal computers or wireless digital devices.

Or future digital maps may simply be enhanced Google Maps.

For example, look at this superdetailed Google mash-up map of Walt Disney World, which plots every location with a description and photos--including facts about individual rest rooms. (To see details, you need to zoom in by adjusting the map scale with the slider control on the side of the map.) (Link from The Disney Blog).

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