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Free Live Traffic Video on Mobile Phones

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Now here’s a mobile video application that makes sense: real-time traffic. New York City-based mobile video company 3rd Dimension today turned on a live traffic cam service in Los Angeles in partnership with NBC.

In LA you probably don’t need video to tell you what the gridlock looks like, but knowing that the video you’re watching is live is far better information than scouring the radio dial for an outdated update. 3rd Dimension last month signed a national deal with NBC, though, so expect it to be coming into more markets soon. NBC provides promotion and advertisements, which 3rd Dimension shows as a static pre-roll for as long as it takes a video to load. The video itself comes from public cameras (in LA, from Caltrans). And then everyone looks good for providing a free public service.

But 3rd Dimension only has 17,000 users in New York, its largest and oldest market, President and COO Eric Joseph told NewTeeVee today. (Om had mentioned the company last year.) It is hoping to bump up that number with a New York relaunch (also in partnership with NBC in two weeks). Good, cause just a static pre-roll ad with rev-share is going to need a ton of users to pay the bills. Around that time 3rd Dimension will also start supporting the iPhone, one of the last handsets for which it doesn’t have an app. Otherwise, if you can access the Internet from your phone and you’re willing to pay for your data, you’re golden.

Joseph would only say that 8-year-old 3rd Dimension is “well-funded.” The company is hoping for a rebound after its chief architect, Bruce Laskin, passed away suddenly last year. It currently has 18 employees with a development team in Ireland.

Personally, I can’t get enough of the real-time traffic info from Google Maps on my BlackBerry. A green, yellow or red road is a quick visual, and if I need to plan an alternate route I can do it right there. But Joseph said San Francisco was next on his list for later this year, so I look forward to checking out live video, too.

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