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GeoTango's success stroy from GeoConnection

GeoTango aligns with Microsoft to access worldwide market

It's the dream of every high-tech start-up: develop innovative technology, sell your company to a well-established suitor, and provide your innovation to thousands or even millions of people around the globe. For GeoTango International Corporation, a young geomatics company from Toronto, this unlikely scenario is playing out just as written.

GeoTango received $105,000 from GeoConnections in February 2004 to develop a web-mapping application for West Nile Virus surveillance. In April 2004, the company received an additional $194,532 to create software that enables users to integrate various sources of data using the GeoConnections-led infrastructure, create three-dimensional (3D) images, and provide on-line 3D mapping services.

In part, GeoConnections funded GeoTango because the company proposed to deliver its 3D visualization services over a distributed network—an open architecture that aligns with one of the GeoConnections-led infrastructure's basic design principles. GeoTango's vision was to provide a mapping and visualization experience to the mass consumer market and to professional users, including organizations and agencies in energy and natural resources, emergency response, defence, telecommunications, municipal government, health, media, utilities, and entertainment.

Innovations in 3D modelling and visualization attracted Microsoft's attention

GeoTango soon became known for its innovative 3D on-line mapping and visualization services. To bring these services to the mass market, GeoTango approached data and Internet service providers as well as Microsoft, looking for business partnership opportunities.

Recognizing the potential of GeoTango's technology, in December 2005, Microsoft Corp. acquired GeoTango to expand the mapping capabilities and local-search framework of its Virtual Earth platform. This framework enables users to easily find, explore, and share information and content related to any location on Earth. The technology and expertise of GeoTango enhance Virtual Earth's ability to deliver this experience for purposes ranging from rich real-world visualization to finding location-centric community content.

Microsoft appreciated that GeoTango's technology can turn location-based information streamed from anywhere on the Internet—as well as satellite images or aerial photographs—into high-quality, interactive computer images and three-dimensional models. Over time, GeoTango's product suite will be integrated into Microsoft's Virtual Earth products and services.

"When we started this business, I never thought we would work with a partner as big as Microsoft," said Dr. Vincent Tao, Director within the Virtual Earth business unit. Dr. Tao founded GeoTango in 2003 when he was working out of York University's Earth and Space Science and Engineering Department as Canada Research Chair in Geomatics. Now, three years later, Dr. Tao is contributing to a strategic-priority area for the largest software company in the world although he is quick to acknowledge the role that GeoConnections played in GeoTango's remarkable ascent. "GeoConnections definitely helped GeoTango," said Dr. Tao. "We were a start-up company, and their funding and support assisted us in developing our innovations."

Two impressive products developed

To achieve its vision, GeoTango was developing technologies to support location-based 3D mapping services. The company has built two impressive products. The first is GeoTango's GlobeView, a system that simultaneously streams data from multiple servers hosted by multiple partners and companies, not just a single source. The advantage of this scalable architecture environment is that users get more-frequently updated data and broader coverage.

The second is GeoTango's unique 3D modeling technology. Called SilverEye™, this patent-pending technology enables users to employ single satellite images or aerial photos and easily apply the textures and rooftops of buildings to generate realistic 3D models anywhere in the world.

GeoTango aligned with Microsoft to access worldwide market

The capabilities offered by GeoTango's technology, which promise to open up a new marketplace, had attracted numerous venture capital firms as potential investors. Dr. Tao thought about expanding GeoTango's business with venture-capital financing, but ultimately decided that aligning with Microsoft would be a smarter option.

"With Microsoft's backing, we can expose our technology and expertise to a global audience," said Dr. Tao. "We are very proud that Microsoft selected GeoTango, and we also appreciate GeoConnections' support. Thanks to their seed funding, the technology we are developing will benefit not just Canadians but also people around the world."

Partners include:

BC Centre for Disease Control Society

Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre

Defence Research and Development Canada

GeoConnections

Health Canada

Natural Resources Canada—Earth Sciences Sector

Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources—Wildlife Division

York University
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