June 30, 2005

Flying around the Globe with Google Earth

OK... I've downloaded the complete Google Earth and I have to say I'm pretty much blown away!
If you recall watching all the war in Iraq coverage last year on the news with the spanky Keyhole mapping that guided you around Baghdad and flew you over the country, well, that's essentially what you now have access to.. and much more.
Panning and zooming around the Globe is a breeze. As you find locations of interest you easily add bookmarks or push pins to build your own personal list of "places". The mapping application is also tightly integrated with Google Search and Google local. What this means is as you search for things and provide a geographic reference, the mapping application will fly you from your current location on the map to the one you are searching for. For example, I can search for a movie in London, England, hit "Search" and I am flown over the Atlantic to a region with several "hits". Enter another search string like our company name "Spatial Media, Frederick, MD" and I am flown back to Maryland.. so cool. As you fly to a location you see small-scale imagery at a National level, however, as you descend increasingly more detailed imagery is presented based on the zoom level (or elevation). Obviously some parts of the Globe have higher resolution imagery than others so it varies. A really cool part of the search... as I get back to Frederick Maryland I not only see place names but there's also icons listed for other related "hits" like the ASPRS, EarthData International, the USGS and more. If I now click on one of "my places" like Victoria, BC, I am then presented with an option to get directions there from my current position (Frederick, MD). Obviously this would be more useful at a local level but you see what I mean.
Cool.. the "Fly to" command is loads of fun, simply enter a location on the Earth and you are flown there. Finally, a number of layers can be optionally displayed including restaurants, hotels, census data, and even historical imagery from Digital Globe... amazing!
Other cool Features (Source: Google Earth ReadMe)
- Geocoder, Local Search, and Driving Directions are now integrated with Google's search engine. The last 10 search entries are remembered.- 3D buildings are currently available in 38 US cities- You can "drive to" and "drive from" any placemark, icon- Web page results from search and URLs embedded in description can now be viewed in an embedded web browser - Google Earth can now be installed without administrative privileges (Plus only).- GPS data can now be viewed in Google Earth- You can perform batch geocoding of street addresses using the Import menu item to import a .csv - Polygons can be extruded or displayed at altitude.- GIFs (non-animated) can be used as overlays and icons.- Movies can be saved as sequences of image files.- Movie Maker now has a 25/50 Frames-per-second (fps) option.
Note: Google and others are on hand today at the Oreilly Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco and will no doubt be WOWing the crowd with a full demo as well as their future plans. I can't wait to hear more!
I was interested to read in the software license that use of any screen captures etc... is prohibited. This will be fun to enforce! Imagine Mapquest going after everyone who's posted screen captures of their maps online...
See http://earth.google.com, http://www.keyhole.com/

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