[UPDATED] Today Google has released a major new version of Google Earth – Version 5. Clearly this new release merits moving up to the next version number. It contains a wealth of new data and features and has substantial new interface changes. This is exciting stuff!!
First up, there’s been great anticipation about a rumored ‘Google Ocean‘. Well, Google has met the anticipation of new ocean data – but, they’re not releasing a separate product. It’s all in Google Earth 5. First, we now have 3D bathymetry. Those new blue ocean floor magery is not just a 2D relief map – they are now 3D terrain. Move your mouse over the ocean and you’ll see below sea level elevations (negative numbers). But, the real surprise is when you first start flying towards the ocean and tilt your view. You now see an ocean surface! And, if your graphics card is new enough, you see wave motion on the surface.
The real pleasure comes when you fly under sea surface. You can both see the 3D bathymetry and see the surface above you for a real submarine-like experience!
And, there is a huge amount of new ocean related layers. Under the Layer pane in the lower left you’ll see a new “Ocean” layer folder. The folder contains a number of interesting new layers including material from National Geographic, Cousteau Society, BBC, NOAA, and more. There are locations of shipwrecks, tracks for ocean expeditions, GPS tracks of sea animals, and lots of information about the ocean environment. This was significant enough that Al Gore came to make the announcement. More on all of this in future posts. Especially given my interests in the ocean.
Here’s a video I’ve made showing off the new Ocean features:
But, Google Earth 5 brings us more than the huge new ocean data. Here’s a sample of major new features (each item will have its own post here and I will link to each one as I write them):
Historical Imagery – turn back the clock on your current view and see older satellite/aerial imagery
Recording Tours – An amazing new way to record tours in Google Earth and share the tours through a KML
3D Mars – That’s right, you now have Google Earth, Sky, and Mars options. Mars has 3D terrain and more!
Watch for more posts about all these new features. This stuff is really cool. I’m only just getting started with all the new stuff. Watch for video demos as well.
[UPDATE: You can also have KML files that go under the ocean! This means you can show where cables go under the sea, or put a 3D model of a sunken ship into the ocean. Very cool!]
[UPDATE: Here's Google's post about the new ocean data. Also, here's the Google Earth Ocean web site (with a video narrated by Sylvia Earle of National Geographics). And, here's a post about the new Google Mars feature in Google Earth 5.]