What will happen to interior 3D models with the new 3D imagery?

Google’s new 3D imagery is pretty awesome. It allows Google to model every detail of full cities more quickly than in the past, and it provides consistent coloring and lighting to help make things look more realistic.
While the new 3D imagery looks pretty good on the outside of buildings, what about the inside of them? We first discussed this back a few years ago when PeterG modeled the inside of the Leku Chillida Museum, and again when we took a look at the interior of Allen Fieldhouse at the University of Kansas. I was reminded of this thanks to +Andrew Leahy when he showed off the amazing interior of Ellicott Square in Buffalo, NY, shown here:


There are two main possibilities in the future, and hopefully we’ll see both of them.
Multiple 3D Layers
As we mentioned when it first came out, we’re hoping Google allows users to toggle between the layers in Google Earth: show 3D imagery if they want, or switch back and few the standard 3D terrain with 3D buildings sitting on top of it. With this system, we’d still be able to see these excellent interiors.
They’re sort of doing that already on Android, where you can toggle a few layers to view it either way.
Street View Interiors
This seems to be the most likely way they’ll handle interiors of buildings using the new 3D imagery — click a building and be able to explore the interior using Street View technology. Google has really been pushing this lately via their Business Photos, and it’s been expanding very rapidly. While you’re a bit more constrained while using Street View instead of the free-roaming ability inside of a 3D model, the level of detail and ease of creation of interior Street View will be tough to beat.
You can sort of do that in Google Earth right now, but it takes quite a few clicks to get there. I expect we’ll see much tighter integration of that very soon, with or without the 3D imagery.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. I’d be happy if GE would just do 2 new things.
    1/ Like a Web Browser, include Back/Foreword Buttons for navigation between links (so you can return to previous views. It would make navigation much better and would probably even help create better video animations. It would be even better if said functions would also allow you to move from one SnapShot View to another (as an added or optional feature to these buttons).
    2/ Make Sorting of “My Places” places much easier by making the functionality the same as Windows Explorer. We should be able to select a bunch of Locations and manually moved them wherever we want (not one at a time … scrolling through tons of Locations just to find an insert point for a single location). Plus the ability to sort by Name, Country, .. ?? whatever.
    Sorting one location at a time is extremely limited and frustrating, especially when you have lots of locations like I do i.e. one for each 3D Model I have created and/or those that others have created.
    Those are 2 features which would make GE far more functional, thus more pleasurable to navigate. I’m confident that most people would appreciate those new/additional features.

  2. I`m not very happy with this new 3D City’s. As soon you go closer to the buildings, they look very bad. I really hope the old 3D Layer will be available for a long time. Even the “Building Maker” models looks way more better than the new ones.

  3. The auto-generated models tech is efficient and effective… but some details require a craftsman’s touch… hopefully Google will realize the wisdom in this, and allow the two to coexist…

  4. Paul van Dinther says:

    Although currently the auto-generated data is only just good enough. This will only get better over time.
    Auto-generated data is not only more representative with correct elevation detail but more importantly, it can be generated more often this keeping the 3D data current and being an accurate snapshot in time.
    3D models were cool but technology moves on. Indeed interior street view is more interesting then a 3D model. This will be especially true for stereo images.
    But, pitty though. The 3D Disney fun park model in France was pretty impressive.

  5. I hope they actually pull this off.
    I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time though I’d prefer the 3D models……….Interior models that users themselves can upload at any time.

  6. a few months ago an Israeli company developed a 3d tool for house designing. It’s so cool, you can actually SEE how the house will look like before you decorate. I know it was also used in games developement such as spiderman games and batman games (I think it was Arkham City Catwoman, not sure…)

  7. a few months ago an Israeli company developed a 3d tool for house designing. It’s so cool, you can actually SEE how the house will look like before you decorate. I know it was also used in games developement such as spiderman games and batman games (I think it was Arkham City Catwoman, not sure…)

  8. Google business photos is definitely the way forward, I have just moved from 3d modelling to being a provider of business photos in ireland. There are a number of improvements to the indoor streetview product coming and google are investing huge resources in it.

    • Heatblizzard says:

      Then why is the last news article in that regards only mention Toronto being able to go inside some buildings and not very many at that?

  9. Heatblizzard says:

    So how come unlike in 2006 Google isn’t making sweeping news about interior street view? I had NO idea Google was still investing in business photos.

    They seem to hang back where during the beginning stages every month there was a major announcement of cities being added extending to suburbs later.

    One news article they had TWELVE whole cities added at once as well as redoing existing cities.

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