Earlier today Google gave a sort of “state of Google Maps” address to many of the biggest names in tech, and one of the most impressive statistics to arise out of the presentation was that so far, Google Street View cars have driven over 5 million miles and collected over 20 petabytes of imagery. To put that in perspective, that means that the street view cars have travelled enough miles to complete 10 round trips to the moon (and then some) and have stored more than 80 times more information than is contained in the US Library of Congress. You think they have a few extra external hard drives lying around?
Google Maps is great for a many reasons that extend far beyond helping you get from point “A” to point “B” — and their newest feature is especially interesting. Dubbed “photo tours,” the new Google Maps feature allows users to take 3D tours of 15,000 different, well-known landmarks; all of which are highlighted when you follow a special link from Google.
In order to create the experience you see demoed in the above video, Google goes through a complicated process of compiling sourced photos from Picasa and Panoramio, finding overlapping photos, generating a 3D rendering based on those photos and then choosing a path through the landmark. We’re sure it’s even more complicated than it sounds, but the results speak for themselves.
If you’ve always wanted to be an astronaut photographer shooting images of Earth from a window of the International Space Station, Stratocam is an app for you. Created by Paul Rademacher, it allows you to snap your own photographs inside Google Maps’ satellite view of our planet. You can also view and rate other people’s photos, and browse the highest rated images from around the world. Read more…
Curious about where people like to take pictures in your part of the world? Sightsmap is a simple Google Map app that takes geo data from the photos uploaded to Panoramio (now a Google service) and uses it to generate a heatmap.
If you thought Google Earth was cool, check out the work being done by Swedish corp C3 Technologies. Using only photos shot from planes, they can automatically create high-resolution 3D models of entire cities that can then be explored. The above video shows a beautiful fly-by of New York City.
All of the C3 products are based on high-resolution photography captured with carefully calibrated cameras. For every picture, the positions and angles of the cameras are calculated with extremely high precision, using an advanced navigation system. This is what enables C3 to give each pixel its geographical position with very high accuracy. [#]
They can also apply the technology to turn panoramic photographs captured at street-level into 3D models of the scene that the user can navigate through freely. Hopefully this kind of thing makes its way to products like Google Maps soon. It would also be awesome for creating maps in video games!
Cop Block created an interactive map showing the “War on Cameras” in which each marker shows an incident where someone was “harassed, detained, threatened, attacked, arrested, or charged with a crime” by government officials for using a camera. It only has about 60 markers on it at the moment — a more solution would be to have a crowdsourced map where anyone can contribute and add events. Still, this is pretty neat for those interested in photographers’ rights (a pretty big issue last year).
You can see sun positions at sunrise, specified time and sunset. The thin orange curve is the current sun trajectory, and the yellow area around is the variation of sun trajectories during the year. The closer a point is to the center, the higher is the sun above the horizon. The colors on the time slider above show sunlight coverage during the day.
Apparently airplanes travel a little too fast for the satellites that provide photos for Google Maps. It happened to capture this plane shooting across the sky over Hyde Park in Chicago, but separated the plane into a phantom plane and three RGB shadows. Anyone have an explanation for what caused this phenomenon?
Frank Taylor, the guy behind the unofficial Google Earth Blog, is currently on a 5 years sailing trip around the world called The Tahina Expedition. Google is actually a partner in the expedition, and is acquiring content generated by the trip for use in their products. One thing Taylor has been doing is taking aerial photographs of locations using a kite, resulting in imagery that’s much clearer than the photos Google gets from their satellites up in space. Google has already begun incorporating some of these images into their products, as you can see from this Google Maps satellite view of Manihi in French Polynesia.