Street-Level Driving in Google Earth

Seattle Street-level Drive in Google EarthThere has been a lot of talk about the new technology preview from Microsoft for Windows Live Local. The preview shows street-level views and allows you to drive a virtual car through the streets of Seattle and see front and side views which are still frames from a camera. And, it all works through a browser. While this is a Very Cool preview, it is pretty limited (currently only a section of Seattle works) and it’s really slow and awkward to use. I was thinking about the similar capability already built into Google Earth. Yes, Google Earth can let you drive through a city and get a feel for the surroundings complete with virtual buildings and satellite or aerial photos. And it already works in most major US cities. No, it’s not as cool as the new Microsoft thing, but Google Earth is actually much more practical and it works smoothly.
First, if you’ve never used GE “Play Tour” mode, read this. Then come back here.
Now we’re going to…


Now we’re going to simulate a street-level Seattle drive in Google Earth. To make this more realistic, you need to modify a couple of simple settings in Google Earth. First, turn on the “Buildings” Layer. Next go to the menu choice “Tools->Options” (NOTE: “Google Earth -> Preferences” on the Mac OSX version). In the Options window select the “Control” pane, then select “Advanced” at the bottom. In the “Driving Directions Tour Options” first take note of the current settings, then move the “Camera Tilt” all the way to the right (80 degrees), and the “Camera Range” to the left (150 meters). Ok, all done, now select “Apply Settings“.
Now download this simple driving path for Google Earth. Select the “Seattle Drive” Placemark you just downloaded (make sure you have the “Buildings” layers turned on) . You might want to double-click it and let GE download the buildings for Seattle first. Then hit the F10 key (or “View->Play Tour“). GE will now take you down a main street of downtown Seattle. I’ve only placed a single straight-line path, because GE tries to swerve around when you go around corners with the Play Tour option. This looks cool at the normal higher camera views, but at street level it swerves you through the buildings.
When you are done, don’t forget to set your “Driving Directions Tour Options” back to their previous settings (mine were at 65 degrees and 1500 meters).

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Comments

  1. I’m confused.
    A squashed satellite image (roads, trees, cars, buildings, shadows all shown flat at ground level) and some non-descript single color boxes (can’t even tell which ones are offices, retail, residential) are “much more practical” than images shot from a car showing the actual view from the street.
    How is it much more practical? Is this a joke?

  2. Well Anon, here is what I mean. Just straight out of the box with Google Earth you can enter driving directions from and to, and then click “Play Tour”. With 3D buildings on you can fly and get a sense of directions in a smooth animation (depending on your computer’s graphics performance – but, definitely faster updates than the Microsoft thing) showing your route. Very practical and useful. With Microsoft’s street-level thing you have to manually drive yourself, and wait for the images to load sequentially every few increments of movement. As I say, cool, but not very practical.

  3. I live in the UK and I saw the Google Car taking the photos of my street. This then sparked up a lot of questions I want answers to.
    Is it legal for Google to be doing this?
    Are they allowed to put images of private property on the internet?
    Are they allowed to put up private and personal information such as car registration numbers and images of peoples faces?
    I shall be looking furthur into this matter and I would greatly appreciate answers.
    Thank you.

  4. I live in the UK and I saw the Google Car taking the photos of my street. This then sparked up a lot of questions I want answers to.
    Is it legal for Google to be doing this?
    Are they allowed to put images of private property on the internet?
    Are they allowed to put up private and personal information such as car registration numbers and images of peoples faces?
    I shall be looking furthur into this matter and I would greatly appreciate answers.
    Thank you.

  5. No its not a joke and it usually looks better then that. A little kid who is a friend of mine showed me how they used it at skool

  6. Re: “Is it legal for Google to be doing this?”
    Surely it is, or they wouldn’t be doing it. So far I personally don’t see it as an issue since you can’t make out people’s faces or license plates.
    If they increase the resolution in the future they will need to blur such things out though.

  7. I’m appalled. Like the banks Google is getting arrogant and greedy. It’s an invasion of privacy for ordinary people struggling already with a recession. No I don’t want the world to see my front door etc. You didn’t ask me – well now I’m telling you.
    If this persists I will join the group refusing to use Google as a search engine etc. and believe me those numbers will grow.
    It’s sad but you’ve let yourself down Google.

  8. Richard Mallett says:

    sorta think the “invasion of privacy” thing should be looked into by people in the legal profession. I really do not want the world to know what I drive and that it is sitting in my driveway

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