Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes

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Monday, June 12, 2006

From the Googleplex

Well, after an early morning drive, I made it to the Googleplex in time for Geo Developer Day. After lunch, Google herded us (maybe ~250? people), into an auditorium to show off their new stuff.

Here are the items the Google team mentioned that I found interesting:

  • Google Earth has had 100,000,000 product activations.

  • Thirty thousand have registered to use the Google Maps API.

  • They are going to support Sony COLLADA XML (textures for 3D things).

  • The new release of Google Earth supports larger user imagery. I didn't understand exactly what this meant, but it sounded like the software would take care of some of the tiling/visibility burden.

  • Google Maps can now read KML -- for example, paste an online KML's URL into the Google Map's Search line.

  • As noted by various other bloggers before today, Google updated their imagery database -- Google provided a few new details: Google Earth now has about 20% of the Earth's landmass in 70-cm resolution. Such high-resolution imagery covers approximately 30% of the world's population.

  • One of the developers said that the typical satellite imagery Google uses is accurate to about 10-13 meters.

The other blogs can go into the specifics -- there were a lot of additional points made about versions of Google software for Mac and Linux. Though none of the announcements were particularly revolutionary, it was refreshing to see Google share some of its secrets (particularly the number of users). That small glimpse into Google Earth's inner workings was a welcome step forward. Until now, the Google Earth team has had something of a Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory vibe.