We have been consumed the last couple of days with a couple of web mapping apps we are trying to get finished, but I saw this news article and had to mention that a partnership between Google Earth, NASA, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office and the National Civil War Museum have received a $285,000 grant to develop content for Google Earth that will display Pennsylvanai’s Civil War trails and provide associated multimedia content. The hope is that the project will promote Pennsylvania tourism, as well as provide modern and historical information about the Civil War trails.
One of our listeners, Steve, sent a link to this great article about how Amazon Indians are using GPS, GIS, and Google Earth to help map their homeland in the Amazon. It’s also been linked from the Google Earth Blog and I’m sure others as well, but if you haven’t checked it yet, you definitely should.
If you want to test your knowledge of Africa, this year’s Geography Awareness Week theme, head over to My Wonderful World and check out their Google Earth quiz. There are also lots of other cool activities and resources, and you can even enter to win a Galapagos Islands getaway.
I have been waiting for Photosynth to come out ever since I blogged it back in the summer. On Thursday, the Photosynth Technology Preview was finally made available for download. It is not a beta, since you can’t yet work with your own collections, but you can play with the functionality of the viewing environment using some collections. And, I have to say, I am totally impressed. The Photosynth demos show you the point cloud that was generated for each photo collection, and then you can navigate around and see each photo in its referenced location and look at the 3D rendering of the photos. Even though it’s not even a beta yet, I just think it’s cool. Many, many possibilities come to mind again, of course, by linking Photosynth to a virtual globe, such as, let’s say, Virtual Earth 3D…..
Some things to keep in mind, if you download it: Read the technical specs on download page. It only runs in IE 6 or 7, and there are some components that will need to be installed, but I had it up and running in about 2 minutes.
Like many of you, I have been trying out Virtual Earth 3D, and there are some things I actually really like about it, and some not so much. I have had good luck in terms of performance speed, but the machine I have it installed on is the one we use for heavy-duty applications, so that’s not a surprise. I was a little sad to see the virtual billboards, not because they are advertisements, but because we are trying to something similar in another application for research purposes and we just haven’t been able to make it work. I’ve not really spent much time with the web mapping apps comparing imagery from place to place, but I do think the oblique imagery is impressive to look at and can be useful in identifying features. The 3D cityscapes are nice, and I like the texturing of the building facades. My favorite part are the pretty stars out in space that I get to look at while I zoom to bookmarked places. And, speaking of places, let me get the site that is the title of my post. According to the WIndows Live Dev page, My3DVistas.com is the first application built using Virtual Earth 3D, and lets you explore the Virtual Earth globe and add places of your own. It also has some pre-set Place Lists that you can zoom to with just a click of the mouse (It can get a little nauseous, though!), and the Panaorama View button does a 360-degree view of the place. The final feature that I want to point out is a nice little button tool that lets you add a GeoRSS feed to the Places list and zoom to places of your own. The default feed is a list of volcanoes. Overall, this is a nice app that demonstrates the Virtual Earth 3D globe.
Via Windows Live Dev
Ed Sullivan emailed us to point out Globe 4D, a cool project by students at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Globe 4D is a 3D sphere mounted in a moveable ring. The sphere has data images projected onto it and can be directly manipulated by the user. The ring controls the temporal aspect of the data being displayed, and the user can watch long-term physical changes to the physical geography of the earth or short-term dynamic data like changing weather. Basically, it’s just a cool device, and you have to watch the demo video!
Thanks to Ed for the link!
One of our readers, Yann, emailed me with some additional information about Geoportail, the French web mapping application, and included a link to a video of a French blogger’s interview with Patrick LeBoeuf, of the French National Geographic Institute, doing a demo of Geoportail’s 3D functionality on a laptop. The video is about 11 minutes long and the conversation is in French (I can follow about 60% of what they are saying), but it does show the current 3D functionality, including imagery overlaid on terrain, and also topographic maps overlaid as well. The flight features are pretty standard and functioned smoothly, at least when Patrick was driving it. For the 3D, they have simple building extrusion, and are also planning to use photos for texture mapping facades. One thing that will go beyond Google Earth is the plan to extrude buildings for all cities, towns, and villages. They are planning to debut the 3D app in the fall or possibly in early 2007, so it will be interesting to see how the public version works. In the meantime, check out the vidcast and see for yourself.
While there is already some GE 3D city data for London, 3pointD posted a news release from Cities Revealed that suggests they will be making portions of their building data available for some 568 cities in the UK. Not sure if all of this data is going to be available for free, but seems pretty cool either way.
NASA has just released World Wind 1.3.4, with some cool new features, including Mars with full 3D terrain and imagery from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. I haven’t really played much with World Wind, so as soon as the semester is over, I am going to have to do some catching up. If you don’t have the latest version, definitely check it out.
Discovery Communications announced today that they are now offering video content within Google Earth, starting with 10 American National Parks, including Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. When users zoom in to one of the featured sites, there will be a Discovery Globe icon which, when clicked, will launch a broadband player hosted by Discovery which will feature several short video clips about that destination. The use of embedded multimedia in internet-based mapping applications has been part of our research at WVU for a few years now, and it’s clear that these types of projects are gaining rapidly in popularity.
Via Yahoo! Finance