Google Earth mobile gets radical 3D makeover

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Google is set to give Google Earth for mobile a radical 3D makeover.

The internet today announced that it will begin adding 3D models to entire metropolitan areas to Google Earth on mobile devices.

According to Google’s VP of Engineering for Google Maps Brian McClendon, this is possible “thanks to a combination of our new imagery rendering techniques and computer vision that let us automatically create 3D cityscapes, complete with buildings, terrain and even landscaping, from 45-degree aerial imagery“.

He says that Google is aiming to have 3D coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300-million people by the end of the year.

3D cityscapes have been available on the desktop version of Google Earth since 2006, but even those have improved drastically in recent years.

Google also says it’s going to increase the areas covered by Street View even further, having already conquered the Amazon, the Cape Vineyards and Botswana’s biggest game reserves. It plans to do this with a new Street View Trekker — a sort of giant backpack with the camera array sticking out above your head. Google hinted that it might want to start selling the Trekker for commercial use.

The internet giant is also expanding the way it crowdsources accuracy on its maps. Today it announced the expansion of Map Maker to South Africa and Egypt, and to 10 more countries in the next few weeks: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

“We are excited to bring such an dynamic tool to South Africa,” says Luke Mckend, Google SA Country Manager. “Now you can help others explore the bike trail in your neighbourhood or include your local soccer pitch. Map Maker is also about improving existing information — indicating if streets have become one-ways or if road names have changed. You can also map hiking trails and add gravel roads that aren’t visible on existing maps

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