Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Collaborative KML and Neven Vision

While coding a spreadsheet-to-KML parser for the online spreadsheet EditGrid, I noticed that they created one themselves. You'll need to register for a free account to access the tool (via My Workspace -> Add-ons -> Grid2Map). The EditGrid developers have also exposed the source code! Two weeks ago, Ogle Earth blogged about users calling individual EditGrid cell values from a Google Earth Networklink, but the latest tool is much quicker and more elegant. With the user designed tools, all the URL/cell queries really slow things down. Here's my code if you want to see how cells are called.

So, here's an experimental spreadsheet, and the associated KMZ. I didn't add a refresh rate, so either set one yourself or refresh manually by right-clicking over the file name in the Places menu. I suggest giving the KMZ a few seconds after the spreadsheet saves for the geocoder to work.

The big deal with these online spreadsheets is that they provide an inexpensive mechanism for multiple simultaneous user spatial data collaboration. Such spreadsheets are also a natural gateway to increased analytical functionality within virtual globes. Significant.

Neven Vision
Also, I read that Google acquired Neven Vision. Neven Vision writes computer vision software to automatically extract information from photos. The company had previously defined a key goal as becoming "the standard for machine vision on mobile phones." The company seems to be relatively well-established with about twenty thousand online references before the Google acquisition. Though the Neven Vision website has effectively been taken down, the Google cache reveals some information. For instance, Neven Vision has a product called iScout which allows a camera phone to "snap photos to initiate a search process and get relevant information or content sent" back to the phone. Some technical information on their technology to detect faces in low-resolution images can be found in this PowerPoint presentation (ppt).