Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Earth

You can go anywhere...virtually.

It’s interesting to see how we are now able to capture the globe in a single browser. I must say, traveling has never been easier as I am able to view roads and buildings as I plan my way around various cities. Google Earth is a program that allows people to visualize the Earth virtually, where maps have become enhanced to show 3D models of landscapes. As well, there are other special features including the sky, Mars, and moon that allow us to zoom in to capture these unique settings –capturing constellations and surfaces useful for research and the curious eye.

What is it?

Aerial View of Bowdoin College

Originating from a company Autometric (now owned by Boeing), President Dan Gordon had the vision to “capture the Earth’s place within the viewer’s face.” Deeming itself as Google Earth (from originially known as Earth Viewer 3D), it was released in 2005, utilizing “satellite imagery, aerial photography, and geographic information systems” that offers complete cities and buildings in various countries such as Australia and United States (Wikipedia).

Now, many people use it on a day-to-day basis, whether they want to see updates on disaster-struck areas (like the earthquake in Haiti), plan trips, or “visit” places like Mount Everest. People who are interested in tracking star patterns and whatnot can use the Google Sky feature that allows them to look at constellations, Mars, and the moon. Personally, I think it's really cool that you can have the constellation right above you shown via Google Sky from where you are.

As well, there are ocean bottoms also featured to zoom below the waves. In fact, because of the great amount of information available, it has become important and useful for scientists and researchers as well. Allowing people to travel to places without setting foot in the area has made it convenient for people to obtain information, mapping terrains at various resolutions (depending on which feature and level of detail necessary). The Google Flight is extra cool in the sense that it allows pilots to map out their routes and to have a simulation to see where they are going.

Google Sky of the Constellation

Flight Simulation feature

It is being implemented on many operating systems, supporting Windows and Mac OS machines. As well, it has been integrating on to mobile devices such as the iPhone. Though Google Chrome may be what they (the Google developers) would want to intend its users to use this program on, it is also available through Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari as well. Developers are continuously trying to improve upon the resolutions of the images as well as the level of detail that can be used to feature buildings, road maps, and more; not only are they trying to expand throughout the globe successfully with its major landmarks but also to provide the level of detail needed to benefit researchers and scientists with information that they can use to compare past data and forecast future developments.

In order to maintain 3D views, there are layers applied on to the interface, where borders, points of interests, roads, panoramio, and buildings are combined together in order to offer services such as maps. It allows for users to utilize various features within the site in order to gain specific information, depending on what the user wants to do.

Effects on the Web
In the context of the WWW, because Google Earth has become a very useful application for many people, as people are able to better communicate globally and to be more aware of what can be accessed from their computers globally. Because Google Earth is still a developing program, it is continuing to develop better resolutions and images for its users. However, it has also arisen some issues concerning privacy. Because of the images captured by satellites for the development of a real-life experience, people have been concerned that these pictures intrude on privacy –whether it may be posting privates homes online or capturing images of the people themselves. As well, it has become a concern of national security, as these images are able to publicize countries’ projects and boundaries that they are keeping secrets (as cited from Wikipedia, "Former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam expressed concern over the availability of high-resolution pictures of sensitive locations in India. Google subsequently agreed to censor such sites").

What now?
Thus, in the future, Google Earth may be useful for the average society, where people take leisure in it as a means of having a virtual vacation or to explore around the world from their homes, though it may also be a threat to nations if things were to get publicized too quickly. People have the ability to gain valuable information, helping scientists, researchers, and students alike. Though the development of having every bit of the world with exact specifications is far from completion, it is not an idea that is too aloof. Obviously, developers of Google Earth are continuing to gather information and data in order to get exact specifications of buildings around the world and have yet to complete it. However, we can see that developments through cities such Las Vegas, Nevada are examples of what Google Earth could potentially offer.


No comments:

Post a Comment