[UPDATE 27 October 2008: If you're looking for the official Google Earth for the iPhone app story - which was released 26th of October, read this post. The post below was another iPhone app that looked like Google Earth, but was published by Earthscape earlier this summer.]
Last week at the 2008 Where 2.0, there were a number of interesting technologies being shown in the exhibit hall. One of the most interesting exhibits I saw was by a Boulder, Colorado company called earthscape. They showed a number of interesting things (see below), but what really impressed me was when their CEO Tom Churchill pulled out his iPhone to show me how they’re working on a 3D Earth application for the iPhone. Check out this video I made as he demonstrated it to me:
I was particularly impressed when I saw they had used the iPhone accelerometers to allow you to tilt and rotate your view by tilting the iPhone. They weren’t downloading the imagery data over the net, it was all running local with just imagery for the San Francisco area. But, it was still very cool! The application is under development using the Apple iPhone SDK. So, assuming they finish the product, it should run under iPhone 2.0. You would definitely only want to run a real app like this if you had a WiFI connection or 3G – imagery and 3D takes a lot of bandwidth. But, this demo definitely makes me look forward to the possibility Google will maybe have a version of Google Earth running on our phones. NOTE: the beta sign-up on their home page is not for the iPhone Earth it’s for their geobrowser (next paragraph).
And, if that’s not enough – during the Where 2.0 sessions earthscape presented demonstrations of software they are developing showing augmented reality for police helicopter pilots. They showed video of the helicopter pilot looking at infrared night video cameras through his goggles. Their software automatically showed augmented information such as street names, addresses, and other useful information so the pilot could concentrate more on flying and keeping his target (usually a car trying to escape capture) in sight. At any moment the pilot can easily tell ground forces the location of the target. Very cool technology! Because of the relevancy to Google Earth, and just the way cool way their iPhone Earth worked, they get my vote for coolest tech shown at Where 2.0.