One of the most exciting things I saw at Mobile World Congress in February was a demonstration by c3 - a company spun out of the Swedish military 'industry' - which interpreted aerial photography to create 3D models of landscapes. The effect is much the same as other mapping firms achieve with various laser-scanning techniques but is much cheaper. I captured a demo of their iPad application on video at the time:
News is now emerging that Apple quietly acquired the firm last year for $240m, possibly looking to reduce its reliance on rival Google for mapping products just as Microsoft and Nokia have done with their own mapping products. However, the speed and cost advantages of the C3 solution could give Apple an important head-start in keeping maps up-to-date or for commissioning coverage of special-events - the C3 rep in Barcelona told me aerial imagery could be commissioned, processed and live in only days.