Sunday, May 30, 2010

Google Street View and Google Earth

Describing all the services that nowadays Google is successfully offering is even too much for a thesis...however, this is not a thesis although this post aspires to give some useful ideas and research about what Google Earth, Google Street View and Google Chrome (actually my preferred applications and my preferred browser).

Google Earth:

Google Earth is a Google program based on a idea of Michael Jones and produced by Keyhole Inc, company specialized in geospatial data visualization applications, but developed by Google and launched in 2005, which consists in a virtual earth globe where one can navigate throughout its surface. Google Earth provides with satellite images which are constantly updated offering a aerial view of the earth with different levels of definition depending on the importance the area.

Although it is in principle a program oriented to provide visual information, there are also derived educational uses, information about places, and a outstanding way to "travel" offering a view that only astronauts or a vivid imagination could provide us, with the Flight Simulator application

But Google Earth is also a business, and as described in the Google Earth Blog:

"There are already some businesses forming around the Google Earth application. Some are focusing on providing online resources to find unique places in the Google Earth data - for example: has an extensive online gallery of GoogleEarthPlaces. They are getting thousands of visits per day to their site. So far, their primary source of revenue is advertising space on their pages. Others are offering services to sell to businesses to provide Google Earth reference data to help customers find their products and services. A real Estate broker is offering information on homes through a large database through the Google Earth interface. Another company, called, is offering services to help businesses in the travel industry, real estate, and news services to use Google Earth to enhance their businesses. For example, they are selling a service to take recent news stories and present the location of the story through an RSS feed in Google Earth format".

Particularly interesting is the case of EarthPlot, a data analysis and visualization tool for Google Earth which allows you to draw and input data on Google Earth images, becoming a essential tool to implement the images for research purposes.

Conceptually, the launching of Google Earth was one of the most fascinating things that the digital era has offered to us, because it deals directly with the ancient (and modern) dream of the space travel flying along the continents of the human a dream, let's then dream about, why not! a Google Earth in real time with thousand of satellites sending us trillions of Gigabytes with videos of what's going on around the world...a real Big Brother where our perspective becomes literally global and concern about our planet, the Earth...a Google's Earth...?

Google Street view:

Google Street view is a technology featured by Google Maps and Google Earth, consisting in offering panoramic views of the streets of a number of cities worldwide. Currently mayor cities in Europe, North America, Australia, Japan and also some cities in the South of Asia have this feature available.

Google offers a very detail explanation about how the system works and it is probably best understood by saying that GSV is "the last zoom layer on the map" actually this is true, and it shows a citizen's scale view that really tells you where you are and what's around, dealing effectively with the usual misunderstanding of the aerial views for those who are not good at reading maps.

Google Street view is a powerful and useful tool to locate places by visual recognition, whether for business or personal purposes...however the debate about the lack of privacy (for instance, England's streets are covered by GSV in a 95%!) is also very vivid these days...however this is not the purpose of this post! However, allow me to post an interesting set of curious pics posted in Mashable regarding the potential intrusion of the cameras into our lives.

Regarding the business model, Google Street views improves the way customers can reach a place, for instance, Orbitz has recently reached an agreement with google to use google street view as an option to gather more information about the hotel selected and the area.

To finish today's blog, the following video shows in a funny way how Google Street View is done:

Today's songs, by Cocteau Twins (it was about time to post them!)

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