3D Map of Bournemouth with shockingly high detail

Ordnance Survey has completed a three year project, compiling data from 700 million laser beams and creating a highly-detailed map of the town.  The laser data was combined with 2D maps and with photos taken from the air.  The final result can be seen in the video below:

With this map, Bournemouth claims to be “the best mapped place on the planet”.  That may be partially true, but a map via YouTube can only do so much.  If they can push this data to Google Earth, or at provide some kind of viewing software, it’ll be a different story.

The service will be rolled out to the rest of Britain eventually, but likely not for at least five years while they perfect the new method.

Google releases SketchUp 7

Google has just released version 7 of SketchUp, their excellent 3D modelling tool.  They’ve added a variety of tools at both ends of their userbase — it’s easier to get started, but it’s also more powerful for their advanced users.  Here’s a short video showing some of the new features:

For more information about this release, visit the official Google blog, the Google Earth Blog or Ogle Earth.

Sorry so quiet…

I’ve been guest posting for the last few days on the Google Earth Blog while Frank has been out of town, which has left me with rather little time (and content) to post on here.  I’ll be back posting again soon, but here’s what I’ve posted on GEB in case you missed it:

Potentially a mind-blowing development, but it’s still vaporware

LivePlace.com has just released a video showing a new product they’re developing called “City Space”.  Wow!

City Space is a 3D world, somewhat similar to Second Life.  Users can create any content they want, and the world is persistent for others in the future (changes you make to the world will remain there).  The “wow” factor is two-fold:

1 – The graphics are absolutely mind-blowing. They look very, very realistic.   Not only that, but the entire world is alive.  If you see a big skyscraper, every window is the portal to an office, which is fully rendered, and can even be seen through the window (depending on light, curtains, etc).  You can drop a video clip on the wall for everyone to watch, or draw a sketch with people looking on.

2 – This amazing world will work on virtually any PC, and many mobile devices.  No downloads, no plug-ins.  All of the rendering will be done server-side using the OTOY engine, so your client simply needs to stream the graphics (just like streaming a video).  I’m not sure how they can pull that off without even using a plug-in, but that mantra was repeated a few times during the video.

At this point, there is no launch date, and really no information beyond the video.  The video is absolutely amazing, but I’m anxious to get a bit more hard evidence to see how this really works.

Watch the video below — it’s well worth your time.

Google’s Virtual World launches, and it’s Lively

I agree with Google Maps Mania on this — I’m quite disappointed that it’s not built on top of Google Earth.  However, it’s certainly a unique creation.  Google has just launched Lively.

It’s essentially Second Life, but with a million different worlds.  You create a “room”, then embed it on your site.  People can hop into your room and play around.  It’s certainly an interesting idea.

Below is a video with a bit more info, and here are a list of the most popular rooms so far, or go check out GEH Island.

OS independent 3D map of Stockholm released

Hitta.se, a Swedish search and mapping site, has just released a 3D map of Stockholm that works in virtually any browser in any operating system.

The technology is powered in part by C3 Technologies, who explain their software as follows:

The technology is based on high-resolution aerial photography with carefully calibrated cameras. For every picture, the camera’s position and angle are calculated with extremely high precision, using a very advanced navigation system. This is what enables us to give each pixel its geographical position with decimetre accuracy. Then, using stereovision technology, we combine two sequential pictures to measure the area’s height profile.

The result is an aerial photograph with each pixel positioned in three dimensions. Over an entire city, thousands of such photos are combined into one coherent 3D model – through an automated process in our unique 3D-processor.

Thanks to all this, there is no one today who can take pictures with the same precision and speed as we can. One example is when we filmed all of Stockholm in October 2007 and created a realistic, yet zoomable and turnable, 3D model of the city in just 3 days.

It seems to be a pretty cool technology, considering cities can be created so quickly and it works on such a wide variety of platforms.  The detail is far worse than what Google Earth and Virtual Earth have, though it renders trees and “any object larger than a VW bus”.

Ogle Earth has a post that gets into a bit more detail and is well worth reading.

New StreetView clone in China

City8, a Chinese StreetView-like site, boasts a total of 30 cities in their database. Their interface is not nearly as nice as Google’s, and the coverage area is hard to determine (the blue lines in StreetView are very handy), but it’s not a bad little product.

The site is only available in Chinese, but StreetViewFun reports that there will be an English version “soon”. If you just want to try out a city, here’s a decent place to start.

City8 has produced a short video to explain their product. It’s narrated in Chinese, but includes English sub-titles.

KML is now an international standard

As reported by the Google LatLong Blog, KML has now officially become an OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) standard.

According to Google, there are tens of millions of KML documents available online, hosted on over 100,000 unique domain names.  The number of files isn’t a huge surprise, but 100,000 unique domains seem like a ton!

As part of this, Google has transferred ownership of the standard to the OGC.  To quote Google:

This transfer of ownership is a strong reflection of Google’s commitment to open standards. Fundamentally, our interest is not to control information, but rather to encourage its spread.

Microsoft started adding support for KML last October, so getting KML accepted as a standard is another step toward making it the ubiquitous mapping standard on the web.

Google Chart API now does maps

US chart of where I’ve livedThe Google Chart API has just released a new version. Among the new features:

  • No limit on the number of requests.
  • Support for maps! USA state maps, other country maps, world maps, etc.

It’s quite slick. Click on the image on the right to see a chart of the states I’ve lived in (the lighter the color, the longer ago I lived there). The chart was built by simply crafting this URL.

There are some neat possibilities with this, especially since you don’t need to worry much about usage. More information can be found on the Mapperz blog or by reading the official Google Chart API documentation.

Dominos Pizza unveils slick new tracking system

Dominos Pizza TrackerMapperz has a post about the brand new Dominos Pizza Tracker, which allows people to track the status of their pizza within 40 seconds of accuracy.

In an effort to “take the mystery out of delivery times”, this will show you when the pizza is in the oven, in the box, in the car and at your house.

It looks like a neat system. It makes me want to order a pizza just to try it out, which might have been part of their plan… :)