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Microsoft Sphere


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.
Scientific discovery
• 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.
Commercial Use
• 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%.
Good points
• 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.
Bad Points
• 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?
The Future
• 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.

By Mark Aubin, Software Engineer, Google Earth

Would you believe the inspiration for Google Earth was a photo flipbook?

It was 1996 and I was working at Silicon Graphics (SGI), which was then on the verge of releasing “InfiniteReality” — hardware for the Onyx workstation that enables people to create graphics with extraordinarily realistic texture. Our goal was to produce a killer demo to show off the new texturing capabilities to maximum advantage. During a brainstorming session, someone passed around the great Charles and Ray Eames book, POWERS OF TEN — A Flipbook, and suggested that our demo move through imagery the way the book does. After discussing a number of possibilities, we decided that we would start in outer space with a view of the whole Earth, and then zoom in closer and closer.

We’d begin by heading toward Europe, and then, when Lake Geneva came into view, we’d zero in on the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Dipping down lower and lower, we’d eventually arrive at a 3-D model of a Nintendo 64, since SGI designed the graphics chip it uses. Zooming through the Nintendo case, we’d come to rest at the chip with our logo on it. Then we’d zoom a little further and warp back into space until we were looking at the Earth again.

We called this demo “Space-to-Your-Face.” And after showing it literally thousands of times to people all around the world, it’s clear to me that we are universally fascinated with seeing our world from this perspective. During one school group demo, the teachers actually jumped up from their chairs and started pointing to places on the screen as we “flew” over the globe. They were ecstatic. The one comment we kept hearing: I’ve got to have this for my classroom!

Only a few years later, advances in computer and internet technology made it possible to deliver high-resolution imagery at sufficient speeds to enable a fluid flythrough on a standard PC anywhere in the world. So I decided to leave SGI and team up with a few others to found Keyhole, where we launched the first digital globe product to stream nearly unlimited, high-quality 3-D imagery over the Internet. In October of 2004, Google acquired Keyhole and Google Earth was born – bringing the kind of content previously available only in government and industry research labs to people everywhere.

And the story doesn’t end there. Once people started using Google Earth, they started asking questions. Good ones. For instance: Why are some parts of the globe blurry, and others crystal clear? Where do you get your imagery? And how often do you update it?

Most people are surprised to learn that we have more than one source for our imagery. We collect it via airplane and satellite, but also just about any way you can imagine getting a camera above the Earth’s surface: hot air balloons, model airplanes – even kites. The traditional aerial survey involves mounting a special gyroscopic, stabilized camera in the belly of an airplane and flying it at an elevation of between 15,000 feet and 30,000 feet, depending on the resolution of imagery you’re interested in. As the plane takes a predefined route over the desired area, it forms a series of parallel lines with about 40 percent overlap between lines and 60 percent overlap in the direction of flight. This overlap of images is what provides us with enough detail to remove distortions caused by the varying shape of the Earth’s surface.

The next step is processing the imagery. We scan the film using scanners capable of over 1800 DPI (dots per inch) or 14 microns. Then we take the digital imagery through a series of stages such as color balancing and warping to produce the final mosaic for the entire area.

We update the imagery as quickly as we can collect and process it, then add layers of information – things like country and state borders and the names of roads, schools, and parks — to make it more useful. This information comes from multiple sources: commercial providers, local government agencies, public domain collections, private individuals, national and even international governments. Right now, Google Earth has hundreds of terabytes of geographic data, and it’s growing larger every day. And that’s not counting the extraordinary “open source” projects people have built to enhance it.

Yes, some parts of the world are still blurry. But in the ten years since the idea for the project was planted, the momentum behind it has only grown exponentially. Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens in the next ten as we turn the pages of our own “flipbook.”

Aubin, M. (2008) Google Earth: From space to your face …and beyond,, 23/10/09.

Powers of Ten is a 1977 short documentary film written and directed by Ray Eames and her husband, Charles Eames. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten.The film begins with an aerial image of a man reclining on a blanket; the view is that of one meter across. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover by Philip Morrison, then slowly zooms out to a view ten meters across (or 101 m in standard form), revealing that the man is picnicking in a park with a female companion. The zoom-out continues (at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds), to a view of 100 meters (10² m), then 1 kilometre (10³ m), and so on, increasing the perspective—the picnic is revealed to be taking place near Soldier Field on Chicago‘s lakefront—and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 1024 meters, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in at a rate of a power of ten per 2 seconds to the picnic, and then slows back down to its original rate to views of negative powers of ten—10-1 m (10 centimeters), and so forth, until carbon nucleus is visible inside the man’s hand at a range of 10-16 meter., 23/10/09

Snow Crash Front Cover

Snow Crash Front Cover

Not-too-distant future – a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and the Internet – incarnate as the Metaverse – looks something like last year’s hype would lead you to believe it should.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for the CosaNostra. But in the Metaverse, he’s a warrior prince, last of the solo hackers, and the greatest sword fighter in the world. Now, he’s racing along the neon-lit streets, the skirts of his black leather kimono flapping, on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse! When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what’s a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue.

*Many virtual globe programs including NASA World Wind and Google Earth bear a resemblance to the “Earth” software developed by the Central Intelligence Corporation in Snow Crash. One Google Earth co-founder claimed that Google Earth was modeled after Snow Crash, while another co-founder said it was inspired by Powers of Ten.[9]*

  • How is Google Earth effecting society today?
  • What are its uses? (Personal and Commercial)
  • Is it an effective tool for finding information or is it more for entertainment purposes?
  • What are the privacy issues involved?
  • How accurate is it? Are some places more accurate than others?
  • Should we have access to this kind of information?
  • How easy is it to use?
  • Is the interface user friendly?
  • What are the platforms it is available for?
  • Can it be misused? e.g criminal activity