Google Earth Blog
Trimble (the company that purchased SketchUp last year) has just released SketchUp 2013 with a variety of upgrades and enhancements.Extension Warehouse
The new Extension Warehouse is designed to be a “one-stop shop for anyone looking to customize their copy of SketchUp”, with tons of new features included.LayOut in SketchUp Pro 2013
New in 2013 they’ve “added hatching and other pattern fills, speedier vector rendering, better zoom, more useful callouts and other improvements we think you’ll love”. Here is more info about LayOut from the SketchUpdate Blog.SketchUp Make
The free version of SketchUp now has a new name: SketchUp Make. The word “SketchUp” now refers to the family of products, with includes the “Pro” and “Make” verions.
All told, there are quite a few great updates in the latest releases of SketchUp. While SketchUp isn’t being used for Google Earth as much as it used to (due to the automated 3D Imagery continuing to be rolled out), it is still an amazing tool for creating 3D models.
You can read more about this update in the SketchUpdate Blog.
As Google often does after horrible events like the tornadoes in Oklahoma this week, Google has created a Crisis Response Page to assist with the relief effort. The map includes a wealth of information including shelter locations, church and school closings, storm reports, a preliminary tornado track and much more.
In addition, the +Google for Media page has created 3D models of Plaza Towers Elementary School, Briarwood Elementary School and Moore Medical Center for use as needed. You can download the models here.
Another source of mapping information is the BBC, which has a detailed map of the tornado, along with a variety of before/after pictures.
While the residents of Oklahoma will certainly value your thoughts and prayers, financial assistance is often the best way you can help. We strongly encourage you to donate to the American Red Cross to support their efforts.
UPDATE: New info from NOAA’s Steve Ansari
Home of Manchester United, Old Trafford is a historic stadium in England that can hold over 75,000 spectators. Manchester has been playing there for more than 100 years, starting when the stadium opened back in 1910.
Ale Zuniga (known as Azz8® in the 3D Warehouse) has constructed an amazing model of the stadium, seen here:
Ale has a total of 189 models in the 3D Warehouse, including 60 that have been accepted into Google Earth. He does excellent work and I encourage you to check out his full collection.
Great work Ale!
Last week Google unveiled a new version of Google Maps, which includes native Google Earth support without the need for a plugin. One of the other big pieces Google is working to include is a map that is customized specifically for each person. As TechCrunch shared, the idea was similar to drawing a map on a napkin:
When you draw a map on a napkin, you are automatically filtering out the most important information, and doing it with your specific audience in mind. The result is a simplified map, that involves maybe a few major routes, as well as smaller roads, and a prioritization that doesn’t necessarily reflect how important a road is to the general population.
The way Google is making it happen is quite amazing:
First, for a specific location the new Maps algorithm will analyze the entire set of people looking for directions in that area, and then highlight the routes that come up most often. Then from that subset they’ll focus in even further and weigh more vs. less important routes, based again on aggregated user data. They can see which roads are more popular, and then pop those out vs. the less important ones. Finally the less important ones are cut away, and you’re left with something resembling the hand-written map.
That then informs the UI rendering of the Map itself, which still retains the street markers for all surrounding routes. Lines along routes important to getting there are made bold and lines on less important streets are thinned out, but not removed in case some users still require that information. It’s about drawing attention and changing perspective, not eliminating something altogether.
While this approach requires amazing levels of computing power from Google, it keeps the impact on end user’s computers even lower than past versions, since less data needs to be sent out.
It was an impressive and informative talk, and I highly recommend you check out the full article on TechCrunch to learn more.
Last September we showed you the first set of amazing underwater Street View images that Google had released. They were absolutely stunning, as you can see in the example here:
TechCrunch recently spoke with Google about their Ocean Street View program, and came away with some amazing insights, including:
…the cameras his team uses for this project are very different from those used by Google’s other Street View vehicles. The team had to use wider-angle lenses, for example. Google’s underwater Street View camera has three cameras on its front and takes images every three seconds. One of the cameras points downward, because that’s how images during reef surveys have traditionally been taken. The back of the scooter features a tablet that can control the cameras.
During a typical dive, the divers cover about 2km and take 3,000 to 4,000 images per camera, and the team does three dives per day, each of which lasts about an hour. In total, the team has taken about 150,000 images so far, and Vevers expects this number to grow exponentially over the next few months. In the long run, the team hopes to create diver-less systems that can stay underwater for 12 hours or more. The technology is already available, but it needs to be adapted to the kind of camera system needed for Street View.
The systems cost around $50,000 each, and they’re already testing 3D cameras to begin to capture that kind of imagery soon.
It’s quite an amazing article, and it offers some great details into how this system works. Check out the full article, then explore our previous post on underwater Street View to visit some of these areas for yourself.
The Google Earth Plugin has been an amazing tool to help bring Google Earth into the browser, but with the upcoming release of Google Maps you’ll be able to view Google Earth in your web browser without needing a plugin at all! Here’s a quick video from Google that shows more of what’s coming in the new version of Maps:
There are quite a few enhancements in this new update to Maps, but the Earth integration could be quite compelling. We’ve seen some amazing uses of the Google Earth Plugin over the years (things like youbeQ, concert seating, Ships and even a great flight simulator), so it’ll be interesting to see if this leads to even better projects.
You can read more about the latest mapping updates on the Google Lat Long Blog or in this long post from TechCrunch. The new version of Maps isn’t available to everyone yet, but you can request an invite to try it for yourself at this link.
What do you think of these latest changes to Google Maps?
The post Google Earth arrives in the browser with no plugin required appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
PC Advisor recently published an article that discussed the “10 things you didn’t know about Google Maps and Google Earth” and I thought we’d take a look at it. Some of these won’t be surprises for you, a Google Earth Blog reader, but it’s a list that would be fairly helpful to the typical computer user.
1 – Google Maps isn’t Google’s only mapping product.
You don’t say?
2 – Because it uses software on your own PC, Google Earth offers a more polished interface than Google Maps.
That could be argued either way. I’d say that Maps is actually a bit more polished, but Earth offers many more features.
3 – No doubt you’ve used Google Maps Street View feature but did you know it works in 3D?
That’s indeed a fun tip. Press “3″ or “T” to enable it (only in Google Maps).
4 – Google Earth includes a flight simulator so that you can view the Earth from a unique perspective.
The flight simulator can be quite a lot of fun. Try it for yourself by activating it from the [Tools] –> [Enter Flight Simulator] option or check out this post for more.
5 – Thought that Google Maps was just for exploring the surface of the Earth?
6 – Google Maps can show up-to-the-minute traffic conditions.
Google Earth can as well, under [Layers] –> [More] –> [Traffic]. The Maps versions is great if you use it for GPS navigation, as the traffic data is factored into your estimated travel time.
7 – Don’t think of Google Maps as a universal panacea because there are some places you can’t see.
It’s relatively rare, but some places have their imagery blurred out, such as the example found here.
8 – If you’re an Android user you’ve probably discovered the Google Maps app but you might not have realized that it can be used offline too.
9 – Using Google Maps doesn’t have to be a passive experience.
Google Maps has some great ways to save your points of interest and maps, and Google Earth has a very comprehensive set of layers to enhance your experience. Over time, I think we’ll see those features begin to merge more and more, which would be a great thing.
10 – You can even create your own 3D models of buildings to view in Google Maps or Google Earth.
What do you think is missing from the list?
Thanks to sheer luck, two people in the Denver area captured a photo of the same lightning bolt from very different locations. Richard Wheeler to decided to try and use those two images to reconstruct the lightning bolt in Google Earth and seems to have done a pretty good job!
Richard went through a number of steps to create the model of the bolt:
- Scaled both images to the same size
- Traced both images and matched up the coordinates of each location in the bolt
- Put the resulting data in a table to calculate the difference in x and y position in each image
After he had done that, he had some work to do:
Now we need to do some maths… except I don’t like doing complicated maths and it turns out there is a big simplification you can make! If both pictures are taken from a long way away from the lightning bolt (i.e. the object has quite a small angular size in the image) then the shift in position between the images is proportional to the distance from the camera. Bigger shifts mean that bit of the bolt is closer to the camera. This approximation is pretty accurate for the majority of cameras, so I used it here.
The other problem is the proportionality factor. If one part of the lightning bolt shifts twice as much between the two images as another part that means it is twice as close. But twice as close as what? Without knowing exactly where the cameras were positioned that means only the relative distance, not absolute distance, can be calculated. Oh well, close enough!
You can view the resulting image in Google Earth by using this KMZ file, or read more about the process of creating the file on his blog.
Great work Richard!
Roughly 35 years ago, the original Star Wars movie was filmed in a variety of locations around world. The opening of the first movie features Luke complaining about having to work at his uncle’s moisture farm, and was shot in the country of Tunisia. The sets have been left virtually untouched for all this time, and New York-based photographer Ra di Martino recently traveled out there to photograph them.
So how did she find the area? Google Earth. From Co. Design:
A few years ago, when Di Martino was working on a project on the Chott El Jerid, a salt lake in Tunisia, she was scanning the site on Google Earth. “I saw a tourist photo on Google Earth of a ruin used for the Star Wars films that was attached to the location.” She tracked the structure to somewhere near Tozeur, an oasis city in the country’s central region close to the Algerian border.
While that article doesn’t supply the locations she discovered (only the photos and story), Star Wars Locations can help us with that. They offer a page dedicated to Google Earth that includes a comprehensive KML file that shows the various locations around the world that were used in the movie.
You can read more about Di Martino’s adventure on the Co. Design Blog.
Here at Google Earth Blog we get a few questions almost every day through our contact form. We encourage you to use if it you ever have a question about any aspect of Google Earth. With the fresh imagery released yesterday, a lot of you are wondering when your city will be updated. We’ll answer that and some other questions below:
Do you have imagery for August 15, 2011 at 3:50pm? My house/car/business was broken into and we want to catch the thieves.
Sadly, this is incredibly unlikely. Because of the way that Google Earth imagery works, any given area is typically only updated once every few years. The odds that they captured imagery at the precise moment you need it, along with the the odds of the imagery actually capturing a detail that helps with the investigation, are very remote.
The imagery in my city is 3 years old. When will it be updated again?
The short answer is that we have no idea, as Google doesn’t release that kind of information ahead of time. We recommend that you sign up to be notified when new imagery is released in your area, and be sure to keep an eye on the “historical imagery” as it’s sometimes newer than the base imagery.
How can I get a live streaming view of Google Earth?
In short, you can’t. Despite what you see in movies like “Men in Black”, the government can’t either. While it seems likely that we’ll have a live-streaming Google Earth in the coming decades, the technology simply isn’t there yet. Not only would you need thousands of additional satellites capturing imagery (and the corresponding servers on the ground to process it in real-time), but there are also images with daylight, weather, angles, etc. Beyond that, I’m sure we’ll see issues with privacy begin to arise as well.
We again refer you to the “about Google Earth imagery” post to see how complex it is to add imagery to Google Earth. Having to cover all 57.5 million square miles of earth in real-time will be quite a challenge, but one that I know engineers are looking forward to tackling.
Be sure to check out the full basics section for more answers, don’t hesitate to ask if you have other questions.
The post When will my area get new imagery in Google Earth? appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
As is almost always the case, you can use Google Maps to determine for sure whether or not a specific area is fresh. This new imagery isn’t in Google Maps yet, so you can compare Earth vs. Maps to see what’s new; the fresh imagery is already in Google Earth, but the old imagery is still in Google Maps. If you compare the two side-by-side and they’re not identical, that means that you’ve found a freshly updated area in Google Earth!
Some of the updated areas include:
- Guam: Hagatna
- India: New Delhi
- Iran: Bushehr, Tehran
- Italy: Mestre, Venice
- Northern Mariana Islands: Saipan
- Pakistan: Islamabad
- Turkey: Uskudar
- United States: Florida (full length of the Florida Keys), Louisiana (Baton Rouge), New Mexico (Albuquerque), Texas (Odessa)
If you find any other updated areas, please leave a comment and let us know!
The historical imagery feature of Google Earth is an amazing tool, allowing you to browse imagery from a handful of different years for any given location on earth. Google has recently been working on a project with the USGS, NASA and TIME called Timelapse, and they’ve released it as a browser-based interactive timeline of imagery for selected locations on earth.
The process for developing this is stunning. From the Google Lat Long Blog:
We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.
They’ve also created a handful of animated GIFs to show some of the timelapses, such as this one that features the Columbia Glacier Retreat from 1984-2011:
Additional animated GIFs can be found on their Google+ page.
The post Exploring historical imagery with Google Timelapse appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
Google has just pushed out a nice update to their Android app, bringing a handful of new features to it including native Street View support!
The official changelog for this update, version 7.1.1:
- Google Maps Street View: With Street View, you can explore the world at street level.
- Improved directions/search: Updated directions let you can visualize transit, walk, bike and drive directions in 3D while update search result list will let you browse search results quickly.
- Improved interface: Easily browse and enable different layers through use of new left hand panel
If you have an Android device you can go grab the update here on Google Play.
It was the location one of the missions that Louis Zamperini flew in World War II, and it’s one of the most remote locations ever captured by Street View: Midway Atoll.
With a population of around 60 people and the nearest town more than 1100 miles away, Midway really is in the middle of the ocean between Asia and North America. The folks at Google Sightseeing took a close look at the island and found some interesting imagery.
For example, Midway Atoll is a protected wildlife refuge and an important stopover for seabirds crossing the Pacific. As a result, you can find birds in virtually every outdoor image.
We’re often asked how to move all of the “My Places” content from one computer to another. While we had hoped that Google would have come up with a syncing mechanism by now, perhaps via Google Drive, that’s not yep the case. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to move those places from one computer to another (or simply keep them backed up).
Step One: Save your current “My Places” content.
To do this, right-click on the “My Places” text in your sidebar, then choose “Save Place As”, as seen here:
Choose somewhere to save the file. This can be just on your desktop, onto a USB drive, or into a system such as Dropbox or Google Drive. One way or another you need to save the file and have a way to transfer it to the new computer.
Step Two: Transfer that KMZ file to your other computer.
If the file is small enough you might be able to email it. Otherwise you can save it on a USB drive, save it in Dropbox or Google Drive, perhaps burn it to a CD. However you want to do it, you need to move it to the other computer.
Step Three: Open the file on the other computer.
Install Google Earth first, if necessary, then open the KMZ file on the new computer. This will put the files in your “Temporary Places” folder on the new computer. Simply drag-and-drop the places into your main “My Places” folder on the new machine and you’re done!
We’re still hopeful that Google will eventually have a way for us to easily keep those “places” synced to the cloud. There are workarounds to make it sync with Dropbox for those that are tech-savvy, but I expect will see a built-in solution at some point in the future.
The post How do I move “My Places” in Google Earth to a new computer? appeared first on Google Earth Blog.
We’ve discussed the groundbreaking “Powers of Ten” video on GEB a few times (the last being in December), as Google Earth is amazing platform to explore some of the concepts in the film. If you’ve not yet seen it, you can view the video here:
A while back, Rich Treves at Google Earth Design posted a KMZ file that allowed you to explore the video in Google Earth. He’s now taken it a step further and (with the help of his friend Michael) created a script that allows you to enter a location and have the blue squares generated with your location in the center. Here’s what mine looks like:
You can read about this new script on his blog, or visit this page to have your custom file created. He’s hoping to add a tour feature to it in the future, but for now you can zoom in and out manually to see the various squares.
Great work, Rich!
The Berlin wall fell nearly 25 years ago, but the city is still divided in many ways. You can look at various economic and cultural differences between the sides, but a simple image from space can show the difference simply based on light. The the image below, the yellow lights are in East Berlin and the greener lights are showing West Berlin.
You can view the image in Google Earth by loading this KML file. The image was captured by European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers aboard the International Space Station, and was released back in 2012.
(via Geographic Travels)
A few years back, Bill Royal completed the “USA Four Corners Tour” on his motorcycle and captured the journey on GPS. He’s loaded it into Google Earth, which gives a great look at what goes into completing this famous ride.
Here is Bill’s write-up of what he did.
Here are the GPS tracks on Google Earth of one of my all time favorite motorcycle trips from back in 2010.
This tour is sanctioned and governed by the SCMA (Southern California Motorcycling Association) and requires one to visit each of the 4 extreme “corners” of the USA in 21 days or less.
My riding buddy Larry and I started our Tour at the Southernmost Point in Key West FL. We proceeded north from there up to Madawaska ME, then west from there to Blaine WA and then south from there to San Ysidro CA to complete the 4 corners. We completed our actual 4 Corners Tour (starting at the 1st “corner and ending at the 4th “corner”) in 15 days, covering 7,665 miles in that time. Of course we had the time and distances to get to the start from home (blue track on map) and then back home from the finish point (green track on map) so the entire trip was 10,544 miles covered in 21 days. For the total trip – we averaged 527 miles per day with our longest day at 846 and our shortest at 380. Each color change of the track (except for the green tack on the homeward bound leg) is one days ride. Our overnight stops are marked by the waypoint markers. We had mostly very nice weather, with the exceptions of heavy rain while getting into Madawaska ME, fog so thick that we skipped the eastern side of the Going to the Sun road at glacier National Park, and we also hit a peak hot temperature of 113 degrees as we rolled into Yuma AZ. Nothing we couldn’t handle and it all makes for the adventure of touring by motorcycle.
I did this trip on my beloved 1991 Honda ST1100 “SilverSTreak” which already had 240,000 miles on at the start. My buddy Larry rode his BMW GS. Both bikes performed flawlessly, requiring only fuel to complete the trip.
I know this style of riding isn’t for everyone, but I just seem to love putting the miles on my motorcycle. Moreover, to see so much of the country over such a small amount of time really helps bring the perspective to the vastness and diversity across our lands. Larry and I are also members of the Iron Butt Association of long distance riders and both of us have ridden motorcycles well in excess of 500,000 miles each over our riding careers.
It might seem like all we ever did was ride, but besides spending time at the mentioned 4 corner points, we also took excursions that included crossing into and back out of Canada (skirting north of Lake Erie), the Going to the Sun road at Glacier National Park (from the west entrance to the visitor center near Logan Pass – the eastern slopes were too socked in with fog), a visit to the Grand Coulee Dam, Crater Lake and National Park, the Redwood National Park, Humboldt Bay, the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, as well as significant portions of the Pacific Coast Highway and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. All in all it was one fantastic trip that I will never forget.
To see it for yourself, simply download this KMZ file and load it in Google Earth.
Great work, Bill!
Did you know Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator? One of the coolest features Google added to Google Earth was the built-in Flight Simulator (a feature originally added as an easter egg in 2007, but later made a permanent feature). It is the single-most powerful visual demonstration of the capabilities of Google Earth. Many people just don’t realize how capable of rendering the 3D world Google Earth can be. It can literally fly you around the planet at up to 60 frames per second.
The last several versions of Google Earth had a bug with the flight simulator. The controls that showed the position of throttle and stick in the lower left have been missing since Version 6. I reported the error to Google several times, but no one has seen fit to fix it. Now, with the latest version, GE 7.1 – the numbers for the other instruments are disappearing or blinking and are basically useless. See the screenshots below comparing the way they used to work before version 6 on the left, and now in version 7.1 showing the problems on the right.
I’ve reported the new problems to Google as well. Hopefully they will fix both bugs in the next release. The flight simulator is not only a wonderful way to demonstrate the power of Google Earth, but also is a great free flight simulator with the most powerful dataset of our current 3D world available on the Internet! Here’s a link to my original Google Earth flight simulator demonstration video (from 2007) which gives you a feel for what its like to fly Google Earth:
Mount Etna in Sicily is a beautiful mountain, and has seen an increase in volcanic activity in 2013. Captured on April 18 by NASA’s EO-1 satellite, the image below shows the mountain in it’s eleventh paroxysm of 2013. In the image you can clearly see the ash cloud on the left, and fresh lava flows on the right side of the mountain.
Located roughly 25 kilometers (15 miles) north-northwest of Sicily’s second-largest city, Mount Etna is a stratovolcano composed of layers of rocks, lava, and volcanic ash left by earlier eruptions. The summit reaches an altitude of 3,330 meters (10,925 feet) above sea level. People have lived around Etna for millennia, so scientists have one of the longest documented records of activity of any volcano in the world—dating back to 1500 B.C.