The month of April has started off with a Big Bang of Google Earth and related news. Already GEB has covered: huge April imagery update; Google Earth April Fools Joke (see the video) by Google and by others; New Layers (here and here); 2008 Olympic Torch Relay; new contour lines in Google Maps terrain; and the cool new Seero live video mapping site. But, that’s not all – read on for a number of other interesting Google Earth-related news stories:
Spacenavigator in Second Life – My favorite 3D mouse device for Google Earth – the 3D Connexion Space Navigator – is now going to be supported by popular 3D virtual world Second Life. Space Navigator has already been supported by many other 3D applications like Virtual Earth, SketchUp, etc. (see the official list of supported applications). The support by Second Life has been a much anticipated capability, and I’m anxious to try it out. Stefan Geens has already blogged a mini-review and has also tried the beta release of the driver for Second Life. He also shared a video showing Space Navigator being demoed with Second Life.
StreetView in Google Earth – Rafe Neeleman of Webware posted an unsubstantiated report from an unnamed source that Street View is coming to Google Earth. This wouldn’t surprise me at all, as this is an obvious direction to go with the great Street View content. See a post by GEB in February where I discuss the possible ways this could be done. It could be done either in a flash application inside a placemark, or as a Photo Overlay placemark inside Google Earth, or both. via DigitalEarthBlog.
Google Earth Community over 1 Million – The Google Earth Community recently crossed over 1 million registered subscribers. Given that there’s typically 20 times as many anonymous readers as there are registered readers at any given moment in the forums, this barely describes the number of people who read it. But, it is a very significant milestone. If you look at the main forum list page at the GEC, at the bottom of the page are the statistics.
LoadMyTracks 1.1 – This free Mac OS X application has been upgraded and includes even more features for uploading and downloading GPS tracks between your device and the Mac. And it includes good Google Earth support. Stefan at OgleEarth says it’s his GPS utility of choice for the Mac.
Google Earth 3D Chip Design – TechOn has an interesting article describing how a company called Gem Design Technologies is using Google Earth to visualize chip designs in 3D. I suggest they not only do that, but also make their models SketchUp compatible and they can choose GE or SketchUp and use a Space Navigator to really view their models.
NOAA Marine Charts – Peio contacted me by E-mail to let me know about his demonstration of taking NOAA marine raster charts (image scans of charts) and creating a Google Maps mashup to view the charts. As you zoom in you get increasingly detailed charts for all the US coastlines and other areas covered by NOAA. The mashup also lets you adjust the transparency levels for the maps and labels. Peio also is working on a KML/Google Earth version – he shared a video demonstration of this. GEB previously wrote about the really great vector marine charts created specifically for Google Earth by EarthNC. Having the raster versions could prove useful as another way visualize the data, but I think the vector data is more powerful since you can choose what data you want to view. Plus, EarthNC continues to grow a vast amount of capabilities for live chart tracking with GPS, current weather overlays, buoy data reports, live vessel tracking, and more. But, the more information the better!
3D Warehouse Additions – the Google 3D Warehouse has received some recent refinements. You can now do Advanced Searching for models; you can now share collections (look at a collection you own and there is a new “Share” link); and you may get a “You might also like” recommendations for models you’re looking at.