Google Earth presentation
What is Google Earth?
• Definition – Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographic information program that maps the earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe.
Google Earth has three main versions
• Google Earth 4.3 Free
• Google earth plus ($20 a year): add-on with limited extras
• Google Earth pro ($400 a year) which is for commercial use
The Standard version 4.3 is for personal use and is illegal to use commercially. It allows the users use of:
* Street view- which allows 360 degree panoramic views of an area, this tool is especially good for finding your way around
• Sky feature – allows you to explore stars and galaxy’s
• 3D building and terrain which gives you the ability to view many well known buildings and status from every angle.
• Layers of mapping
• Photo realistic buildings
Google Earth plus allowed use of
• Enhanced network access for faster performance
• Real-time GPS tracking
• Greater-than-screen-resolution printing
Google however has recently stopped the sale of this product stating that everything a customer should need, should be provided through the free version and if not there is the Pro version still available.
Google Earth pro which is $400 a year is aimed at commercial use. It is illegal to use the free version in any commercial way. Some of the advantages of using the Pro versions are
• You can Represent data using 3D drawing tools
• Transfer up to 2500 locations by address or coordinates from a spreadsheet
• Share Google Earth views and data representations with clients as a KML which is Google earths original file format
• And You can also Export high resolution images and Create virtual tours which is useful in displaying areas and concepts to customers.
The different platforms that Google earth is available for are Mac, Pc, Linux, iPhone/iTouch and UbiqWindow.
• iPhone and iTouch applications which have just recently been released for free on the apple apps store. This version doesn’t have all the capabilities of the full computer versions for example it doesn’t have the layers feature. The iPhone and the iTouch do have the added bonus of including the option to select your current location using the integrated GPS.
• UbiqWindow allows the user to interact with a hologram version of Google earth. The technology lets a computer screen be projected in mid-air. They have devised a touch-less way to interact with the “hologram”, and Google Earth is a great way to show off its capabilities.
What are its uses?
Entertainment and personal use
• Google Earth is a great tool for exploring the world around you, it allows you access to areas you may never otherwise get the chance to visit. You can also use it to find your way around places or explore a place you are planning to go before hand to give you a better idea of what to expect.
• Google Earth has helped massively with scientific discovery of many different varieties. Google earth gives so many different people access to explore the world from the comfort of their homes. With so many people scouring images of places that may be difficult to access any other way there is no wonder discoveries are being made. The discoveries vary from Meteorite craters being found to evidence showing of a tsunami happening over 5000 years ago in the Indian ocean. I am sure as the imagery and resolution become better and more and more people access the information there will be many more discoveries to be made.
• Google Earth is seen as an amazing learning tool. It brings a new depth to learning as it gives the learner control over what they do and where they go. It is a much more exciting option compared maps and images of places you are studying because you can navigate and explore the area almost as though you were there. It also allows a teacher to create movies and fly throughs of areas they want to present.
• Google earth can also be a very useful tool in many different commercial areas such as environmental monitoring, Incident planning to emergency response, Site surveying, Location research and much more. It gives a company access to an area without having to spend money on going there in person.
• Mark Aubin the Software Engineer at Google Earth has said the inspiration for Google earth came when creating a demo for InfiniteReality a hardware for creating realistic textures. While brainstorming ideas for the demo it was suggested that it would be based around the Charles and Ray flip book Powers of ten, which moves from an image up into space travelling from a 1m square box, multiplying the area by 10 and travelling further and further into space and back again. The demo was made and people and teachers especially went mad for the imagery and fluid movement through space and the idea of Google earth was born. With advances in computer and internet technology it wasn’t long until it was possible to deliver high-resolution imagery at sufficient speeds to enable a fluid flythrough on a standard PC anywhere in the world.
• The resolution available on Google Earth very much depends on the area you are looking at. For example Most Land Areas are taken using Satellite imagery with a resolution of 15m per pixel, more populated areas however are covered by Orthophotography which is taken with an aeroplane which has a higher resolution of 7m per pixel. Oceans have a much lower resolution to 500m per pixel as not a lot of detail is needed. Google Earths imagery isn’t live and is only current to within 3 years but is being update all the time.
• Google Earth has raised a lot of security issues since it’s release. Many people believe the public should not have access to the amount of data Google Earth presents. For example Google earth is said to have been used by the terrorist is the Mumbai attacks a few weeks ago. They are said to have learnt their way around the area using the program. Although they used the program to aid in their attacks the program did not show anything the terrorist would not have access to in maps or by walking the streets. It raises the question is it right to have this much information available so easily.
• Personal security is a big concern with Images of potential break-ins, scandally clad sunbathers and individuals entering adult bookstores have for example remained active and these images have been widely republished and exploited. Making innocent victims of the people capture by Google.
• Google Earth plans to expand the areas in its street view application but they may struggle as many countries in Europe have laws prohibiting the un-consented filming of an individual on public property for the purpose of public display. Google are trying to fight this by blurring out faces and licence plates but are failing to carry this out 100%.
• There are many good points to Google Earth like it being a great teaching tool like I explained earlier. Another good thing is that there is lots of room for development, there does however need to be a balance between respecting people’s privacy and making the most of what Google earth does. I feel there is lots of scope for the development in the PDA area and Google earths GPS abilities for personal virtual route planning.
• The area that lets Google Earth down most is its patchy quality and that some features are only available in certain areas although this will be changing over time. I have mixed feeling about Google Earth, I think as a concept it could be an amazing tool but I also feel there is a lot of scope for it to be exploited by the wrong kind of people. I also believe it is a person’s right not to have to be photographed and have the images published for the world to see but is this really any different from being caught on CCTV?
• Google has stated that its ultimate goal is to provide street views of the entire world, although the company has not disclosed in advance the exact dates when any particular locations will be added. Also In April 2008, Google Street View cars were spotted in Italy with SICK laser cannons added to the scanning array on the car. These would be used for gathering 3D data as well as images. I feel for the more immediate future the biggest development we will see is the quality and variety of images available. Microsoft’s Sphere also allows us to see how Google earth could easily be developed to work with this kind of equipment to create a fully interactive globe.