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This Sounds Like April Fools, But It's June…

By - June 08, 2005

From SVW:

Google plans to use trucks equipped with lasers and digital photographic equipment to create a realistic 3D online version of San Francisco, and eventually other major US cities.

The move would trump Amazon’s A9 service, which offers two-dimensional photos of buildings on US city streets.

I dunno. My first question is….why?


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28 thoughts on “This Sounds Like April Fools, But It's June…

  1. Brian says:

    From Google’s standpoint, what Amazon did was a hack. They didn’t attack it as a computer science problem, all they did was throw a camera on a truck and tie it it in with GPS. Nothing fancy shmancy; a dozen Google engineers could have whipped it up in a few days time, right? Google attacks it as a computer science problem, and wants to bring something new to the table.

  2. jim winstead says:

    so that the googlebots will know how to get around, of course.

  3. dendrite says:

    Yeesh. Another “what’s that strategy here?” debate again, eh?

    Why is satellite imagery feature such a hit with Google Maps? Howabout because its cool…and gives users information that they find interesting and pertinent ?

    Why is the store front imagery feature such a hit with A9? Howabout because its cool…and gives users information that they find interesting and pertinent?

    I’m gonna go go with the same reasons on this announcement. And I agree with Brian, the additional laser data just gives move flexibility to the system, for not much of a cost increase. It may even allow them to filter out obstructing objects like people, poles, etc.

  4. Brad Hill says:

    You don’t understand this? What’s not to understand? Detailed street-level imagery would bridge the gap between the unrealistic detail of Maps and the undetailed realism of Earth. It would be damn useful, and the coolness factor would keep Google leading the local-search race.

  5. Bowen says:

    Jesus Christ. With Google “Earth”, a full 3-D model, and that dark fiber expert they recruited a while back, they will be able to replicate the entire city in cyberspace. Say hello to the holodeck, Mr. Sulu.

  6. qwerty says:

    Google says it’s all about spreading the good. That it’s a zero-evil company, etc. On the surface, sure. Everyone loves Google. But I worry that some of the things they want to do could make it a lot easier for terrorists and other evil-doers to plan and execute events. I predict that Google is going to run into some protection and privacy problems from the government, and these are battles they will not win. Perhaps rightfully so.

  7. Derek Tumolo says:

    What I really want is google to go around and do this for all the onramps, offramps, merges, and other hellish spots in driving directions. Spots where google doesnt tell you that your going to get on in the left lane, and then immediately merge to the far right, and those kind of things.

  8. mj says:

    I find it quite ironic that just two posts below you have a story about the massive projected growth in online yellow pages. Seems like ample justification to me. Maybe the utility is debatable, but if the coolness factor draws the eyeballs, it doesn’t matter, right?

  9. mj says:

    An example of what this might look like, from a research project at Berkeley.

  10. Ivan Tumanov says:

    They announce products these days just to watch their stock price rise. Google toasters that index your bread supply? Woa, another 10 point gain in their stock price.

    Seems like this sort of non-software project would be best to set up a spin-off company to do, or something of that sort. All their previous map/etc data was licensed from other companies, minimizing their exposure. But the second they start getting into real-world projects, they’re gonna set themselves up for a whole another set of failure scenarios.

    When you’ve got all that capital that just got infused from the IPO and you don’t know what to do with it, this might be a good way to throw it around.

  11. Ven says:

    CMU has been working on 2D and 3D mapping for years now; I do beleive they were using lasers as well. Here is paper by them.

    http://www.ai.mit.edu/courses/16.412J/thrun.map3d.pdf

  12. Agree, just because you can do it – it doesnt mean that you have to…what will be next – bugs equipped with cameras to document the world from a micro perspective…

  13. Cole says:

    This is useful for directions because for most people, mapquest, yahoo maps, and google maps just don’t get the job done. I’ve never met anyone who has had a good story from using it and isn’t a computer geek.

    Most people give directions using landmarks, not street names. If I ask for directions anywhere but in the #’ed streets of NYC, people won’t say the street name, they will say “take a left at the dunkin donuts and it’s near the old church yard” instead of “3 miles north on Elm St. and .5 miles west on Brentwood Blvd.”

  14. anthony says:

    VRML man, VRML…

  15. This is the type of project that falls very well into their “we don’t strategize everything” mantra. With local search getting big, and RFID on the horizon, and mobile growing to make location-based stuff important, you might as well start now to make maps like this so that in 5 years time when it all comes together, you are ready to go. It would be useful to have this kind of mapping, for directions, for booking holidays, for checking out shops, for tracking your Fedex shipment. Not that Google needs a use for it, people will go use it because it is cool, and Google just has to figure out how to get the shops to pay for a listing, or an enhanced image.

  16. Kendall Willets says:

    That does it; I’m copywriting my house.

  17. (Kendall: I assume you meant copyrighting, rather than copywriting…)

    The best reason for having a full 3D map of San Francisco? So we can have Grand Theft Auto: San Francisco, in high resolution, and drive around the actual streets, with the actual shops…

  18. MikeM says:

    Google sees the future. The power of hundreds of PHDs with free reign to invent and imagine.

    First map the city streets in 3-D, invite flyovers/flythroughs, visitors stop at a store and walk throught the front door where a virtual 360 tour of the store awaits the searcher/consumer.
    Say hello to the proprietor……..

  19. Yes, copyright; I was low on sleep yesterday.

    It’s funny, I once contemplated a UT map based on one of the city’s HOPE VI housing projects. But GTA: the Hallinan Years might be a better scenario.

  20. hrady says:

    That does it; I’m copywriting my house.

  21. doro says:

    CMU has been working on 2D and 3D mapping for years now; I do beleive they were using lasers as well. Here is paper by them.

  22. cobal says:

    It would be damn useful, and the coolness factor would keep Google leading the local-search race.

  23. Speaking of coolness… check out:

    The Kalamazoo Dale Chihuly Glass Sculpture Exhibit

    The 2005 Chihuly Kalamazoo Glass Exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA)

    Photo album, maps, dates and times for this beautiful glass sculpture exhibit.

  24. James Doody says:

    Google wants to be the first and only GEO WEB Platform around, with only Microsoft’s Virtual Earth offering any competition.

    There may be millions of websites for us to explore but in the future there will be just two major Earth Platforms for everyone to explore. That is a huge juggernaut for Google to control, which leaves every other online Company, apart from MSN, lost in cyberspace.

    The only thing that currently prevents Google from reaching their GEO Web masterplan is in their lack of direction. (Remember that it was outside Developers that opened up Google’s eyes to the importance of Google Maps Mash-ups.)

    Currently I am developing plans for a project that aims to create the most original and innovative GEO Web Platform.
    The most amazing thing is that Google has in its own hands the type of GEO components that I aim to use for my GEO Web Platform. It’s just a shame that Google’s management can not see through the same looking glass as me.

  25. Mark says:

    I never seem to understand Google, sometimes they act like typical corporation and sometimes like some underground bunch.

    But people, listen to this:

    http://WWW.BITMETV.ORG Largest TV piracy community on the internet today, this site is torrenting thousands of series, hundreds of episodes daily including numerous ABC,CBS,CC,Cartoon Network, Fox… It has irc support channel on irc.bitmetv.org, in channel bitmetv.help you can often find some of the people that run the site under pseudonims of Ibslice, SystemsGuy and Catfood. Because it is running from the law, it is invite only. Shed the light on cockroaches and help us fight the piracy.

  26. Mark says:

    But people, listen to this:

    http://WWW.BITMETV.ORG Largest TV piracy community on the internet today, this site is torrenting thousands of series, hundreds of episodes daily including numerous ABC,CBS,CC,Cartoon Network, Fox… It has irc support channel on irc.bitmetv.org, in channel bitmetv.help you can often find some of the people that run the site under pseudonims of Ibslice, SystemsGuy and Catfood. Because it is running from the law, it is invite only. Shed the light on cockroaches and help us fight the piracy.

  27. Discussion says:

    CMU has been working on 2D and 3D mapping for years now; I do beleive they were using lasers as well. Here is paper by them.

    Seducy