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New Modeling Algorithms Bring More Detail to Google Earth's 3-D World 64

An anonymous reader writes "Google Earth has featured (some) textured 3D buildings and 3D terrain since 2006. New image-based modeling algorithms that process 45-degree Aerial Images automatically, however, will allow Google Earth to display entire 3D cities with fully texture-mapped, accurately modeled 3 dimensional buildings, roads, trees and landscaping/terrain. This YouTube video released by Google shows how effective the technique is at capturing urban areas in 3D. The resulting 3D cities look almost like a high-altitude view of a fully modeled 3D city in games like Grand Theft Auto."
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New Modeling Algorithms Bring More Detail to Google Earth's 3-D World

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  • It would be nice if this got merged with Street View and Google Maps.

    • by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:01AM (#40266933)
      I think that's the plan. Google Maps now has a new mode called MapsGL which uses hardware accelerated 3d. Why add 3d to the browser if you didn't plan to use it.
      • The term GTA makes my eyes perk up, I have felt for years that Rock Star games still is a innovator when it comes to pushing the edge of graphics. Not only graphics that but game play itself. I know geeks do not play the game (maybe they do) but the company has been ignored for years. This is not a surprise, however I wonder what took google so long to use this? Its been around for sometime...
        • there are better examples of innovating great graphics than GTA and Rockstar Games, but i agree they do an awesome job. RDR was gorgeous.
    • C3 already was doing this a couple years ago. Apple bought C3, and we've heard nothing more. But there is a rumor Apple is going to debut the 3D maps next week on iphones. Google annoiuncing progress on their developments in this area sounds like a pre-emptive publicity strike from google to blunt the Apple first.

    • It would also be nice if they could take care of the occasional reversed images. []
  • Now someone needs to make a driving simulator based on this technology. Imagine, being able to play GTA in your own town or city!
    • by siddesu ( 698447 )
      Going out for a drive has no appeal anymore?
      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        Not really.

        But GTA has stealing cars and killing people in it, I guess that would be more fun in real life.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          You know someone will use this to create a GTA rip-off based on real cities, and then someone else will blame it for the next random murder spree.

          • it's funny how when you free roam GTA for several hours and then go driving IRL you have to stop yourself from ramming full speed into cops.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Fuel has become far too expensive for the simple pleasure drive.

  • Sketchup supplanted (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Attila the Bun ( 952109 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:11AM (#40266971)
    ...which explains why Google recently disposed of its 3D drawing tool, Sketchup. With the rise of algorithms like Photosynth it was inevitable that hand-drawn features would be superseded by automatic analysis. I just hope that Sketchup or tools like it remain available for drawing features which don't exist (yet). Of course there are plenty of 3D CAD programs available, but for those of us who aren't professional draughtsmen, few approach the ease-of-use that Sketchup has.
    • Of course there are plenty of 3D CAD programs available, but for those of us who aren't professional draughtsmen, few approach the ease-of-use that Sketchup has.

      I've yet to find any vaguely competent free 3D CAD software for Linux...

      • I've yet to find any vaguely competent free 3D CAD software for Linux...

        It depends on what you mean by CAD and competent (a word I'd normally reserve for people not software).

        If by CAD you mean designs good enough for a "maker" [] project, then Blender should be enough. There's also FreeCAD []. However if you're looking for something you can use as the plan for a skyscraper then, no, not even SketchUp will do. Not even AutoCAD and other expensive industrial-strength software will do if you're not a professiona

        • by Timmmm ( 636430 )

          Haha if you think blender can do CAD, you've obviously never used real CAD software. I wish it weren't the case, but currently nothing (including FreeCAD) comes even close to Solidworks. Trust me, I have used all of the following programs:

          * FreeCAD - Yeah, not useful.
          * HeeksCAD - Sadly also not useful.
          * Solidworks - Amazingly amazing. But Windows only, and there is no way to get it for a sane amount of money other than piracy.
          * Pro/Engineer - Very good, but a shit interface (Motif!). It used to have Linux s

          • Haha if you think blender can do CAD, you've obviously never used real CAD software.

            You've obviously cherry-picked my comment, especially the part about "depends on what you mean by CAD" (Computer Assisted Design). Blender is "good enough" to prototype a design you wouldn't stake your life and probably your salary on, i.e. DIY stuff (which is what I said). Of course for serious design where you can get sued for failure, Blender is like a kitchen knife to a surgeon.

    • Sketchup didn't fit Google's business model. No ads. No user tracking.

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:12AM (#40266977) Homepage

    Maybe I'll care once they start using imagery under ten years old over my city. It'd be nice if the buildings that have been torn down and replaced in the meantime were photographed before the new buildings are torn down too.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Pics or it didn't happen.
  • Just like Nokia? (Score:4, Informative)

    by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:15AM (#40267133)

    So, just like Nokia's 3D maps []? Or are Nokia's maps hand modelled?

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @06:19AM (#40267141)

    If this is the consumer grade version, imagine what the military have, and must have had for years.

    This is impressive technology, even if it has been done before!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure the Aliens have even better maps of our world. Present, AND way in the past.

    • they haven't got it, because if they had, then I would be writing software for it right now... This is way ahead of what we currently have for battle training systems. Currently, the models have to be hand generated.
      • by heson ( 915298 )
        They do have. Projects like this are spin offs from UAV software. But they are not very far ahead.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        They to, but if you really worked for the government you would know this. But then again, if you did work for them and leaked how far advanced we really are, you wouldn't be working for them much longer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I remember doing my military service in the Swedish army staff school (Battalion level and higher) in Enköping in 1989/90. There were a voluntary project involving manually digitizing maps using a CAD tablet with a 16 button rat. The software ran on a Unix workstation and it was quite buggy. So I asked the officer in charge, a major, why they didn't use the raw data from the National Land Survey of Sweden (Lantmäteriet) since I were pretty sure the data were already vectorized and layered. He did

    • It's this []

      TOPSCENE technology rapidly processes and converts terrain elevation information, two-dimensional imagery, and sensor information from multiple sources into an interactive, 3D visualization of the warfighter's mission operating environment. This makes it possible to train on actual terrain and in near-real time.

      The thing is, it's realllly expensive to have something like this for a relatively small number of people to use. And I'm pretty sure it's more dependent on direct elevation sensing (e.

    • If this is the consumer grade version, imagine what the military have,

      Apple last year bought C3 Technologies [], which was a spinoff of the Sweedish company Saab, which was used for military aircraft.

      All of the videos you can find on the web are from around a year ago. Imagine what might come out of marrying the military technology with some manipulation enhancements from Apple...

      The thing is I'm not sure that technology is that much better than what Google has, as far as rendering and storing the world... th

    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      The military has a simpler system: 1) bomb it 'till it's flat, 2) don't bother to take pictures.

    • Because government is always ahead of private industry in creating cutting edge software!


      Many people seem to thing government secret technology is like that used in the movie "Enemy of the State".

      I really doubt it. There might be a few things technology wise that they might be ahead of the curve, likely military, and likely so expensive it wasn't even worth considering, so unless you are a wealthy nation not worth implementing anyway (and obsolete in a year or two anyway).

      I think the rate technology

  • Again commercial map vendors are battling with bling and shiny, not actually hiqh quality data. I guess it is path of less resistance (and marketing dep are happy).

    • I gotta admit, this is one thing I wonder about.

      Don't get me wrong--I've used Google Earth and entered bike rides that I've gone on. It was pretty cool to do the fly-along view and I can see where this would be really fun for the first few times.

      The problem is that if I'm actually trying to navigate around a city, there will be two problems. Either the camera will be positioned so that I can't see where I'm supposed to turn because some building is in the way, or the camera is going to be sweeping around

  • I image how interesting it would be to have this info accessible through a public API.
  • This is a trap. View this level of detail, get put on a watched list.

  • Does anyone actually use this shit? I didn't use 3D maps before, and I don't plan on starting. I just don't see the value I guess, aside from the novelty factor.

  • I'm housebound, essentially, any dreams of being able to travel are as unlikely as dreams of waking up to find out I'm "Gill Bates" (or is that a nightmare ;-) Googlemaps /Streetview /Earth has given me the ability to travel intercontinentally , with no TSA "patdowns' I might add ;-)

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham