According to CNET, Google is working on a new product rumored to be called “Google Ocean“. Apparently Google invited a bunch of oceanography experts last December to discuss creating a 3D oceanographic map. And now, rumors are flying on what might result.
Ever since Google Earth was released in 2005, many people have wondered why the ocean floors seen in relief color were not in 3D. According to posts by some of its developers, part of the reason had to do the 3D model of GE not allowing sub-surface rendering. There have been rumors for a long time Google was planning to add 3D to the oceans and allow sub-surface rendering for Google Earth. So, would this new ocean-viewing capibility mean another new version of Google Earth? Google Earth 4.3 was just released two weeks ago – it seems unlikely we’d see something else new right away. Or is the capability to render ocean floors already built in to 4.3 and they just need to turn on new servers to make the oceans 3D? Or, will we have to wait several months before Google Ocean is released?
There are three approaches to making Google Ocean. First, as suggested above: modifying Google Earth’s base terrain model to support ocean floor 3D data. This would be the best approach in my opinion. Keep it all in one application. Second, Google Ocean could be a different dataset like Google Sky where you switch to a different mode – connecting to a different server – still using the Google Earth application. Or, third, Google Ocean could be a whole new application. Hmm….
Google Earth’s capability to overlay images and placemark data has already enabled oceanographers and other scientists to add many useful layers of information about our world’s oceans. Here are just a few examples of useful marine visualizations for Google Earth:
- Sea Surface Temperature
- Coral Reef Base – a database on the condition of the world’s reefs
- Ocean Weather Data Gulf and Western Atlantic
- US Nautical Charts in Google Earth – EarthNC has a ton of Google Earth content for boaters
- Scientific Ocean Drilling Database
- California Marine Protected Areas
- Cruise Ship Positions and Web Cams