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The amazing things about Google Earth
Mis à jour : il y a 1 heure 13 min

A burnt out plane and some imagery errors

ven 09-12-2016

On August 3rd, 2016, Emirates Flight 521 carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew crashed while landing at Dubai International Airport. One fire fighter died in rescue effort but all the passengers and crew survived. The plane was almost entirely destroyed by fire. See pictures and video here. DigitalGlobe captured an image of the airport just five days later. Being a busy airport the wreckage had been moved out of the way, but can still be seen:

We also noticed that in that location if you switch to ‘historical imagery’ Google Earth incorrectly continues to show the default layer. Only when you switch to older images or zoom out does it disappear. It appears Google has got some settings wrong on the imagery there.

While investigating other imagery updates including some flooding in Australia in September, we came across some patches of blurred imagery:

At first it looks like censorship, but given the location and the large number of blurred patches (at least eleven), we believe it is where there were clouds in the original image. Normally, for the default layer, Google replaces cloudy patches with older imagery. However it appears to have gone wrong in this case. We later found the same effect in Bangladesh, so it is not an isolated incident.

Also in Bangladesh we came across a strip of imagery that at first looks like it is out of alignment or has been misplaced. However, on closer inspection we believe it is simply that the river has changed significantly between May 2016 (the strip) and November 2016 (the background) when the two images were taken.

To see the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file

The post A burnt out plane and some imagery errors appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 sees first light

jeu 08-12-2016

We wrote about DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 back in August and again when it was expected to be launched in September. However, the launch was subsequently delayed and actually took place on November 11, 2016.

DigitalGlobe has recently released WorldView-4’s first public image, taken on November 26, featuring the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

And here is part of the image zoomed in, showing the full resolution:

You can see people in the tennis courts (identifiable by their shadows). Overall, the resolution and colours are clearly better than the average satellite imagery found in Google Earth, but of course not as good as most aerial imagery.

You can download the full high resolution image from the DigitalGlobe website as well as learn more about the satellite and watch its launch.

As we discussed previously, WorldView-4 has similar capabilities to WorldView-3, so don’t expect to see higher resolution imagery than anything previously seen, but do expect a greater quantity of good quality, high resolution imagery. The location of such imagery will depend, as always, on suitable weather conditions and interest from DigitalGlobe or its customers and whether or not it is passed on to Google for inclusion in Google Earth.

The post DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 sees first light appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Moving sand in Landsat animations

mer 07-12-2016

Last week Google added global mosaics in historical imagery for each year going back to 1985. The mosaics are created from mostly Landsat imagery with a bit of Sentinel 2 imagery for the last couple of years (the Sentinel 2 satellite is new). The mosaics are created by gathering all the Landsat/Sentinel 2 imagery for a given year and looking for cloud-free and snow-free pixels then combining the images to create a single global mosaic for the year. Although it is fantastic for viewing long term change, the overall result is that we actually miss out on short term changes.

Back in July we wrote a post about watching sand dunes move with Google Earth imagery. Today we are looking at a similar concept, but with Landsat imagery instead. In August we created a KML file that automatically creates animations using Landsat imagery with thumbnails from Amazon Web Services. We used that tool to create the two GIF animations below:

Sand blowing in the Sahara (southern Libya). Explore original animation.

Sand blowing and irrigation circles in Oman. Note especially south west of the centre of the animation there are wisps of sand moving north west. Explore original animation.

What we found interesting is that established dunes hardly move at all over the three years covered by the animations, but loose sand can clearly be seen moving. It looks no different than sand being blown on the beach. Yet the scales involved in the animations are tens of kilometres and a three year period.

You will also notice in the second animation the dunes to the north east appear to pulse sharper, then softer again. This is because the angle of the sun affects the shadows during the course of the year.

The post Moving sand in Landsat animations appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Panoramio photos not showing in Google Earth

mar 06-12-2016

[UPDATE 7-December-2016: The Panoramio Photos Layer is working again. A temporary one day issue.]

Thank you to GEB readers Frank, Manuel, Jim and Gabriel for letting us know that the Panoramio photos are not displaying in Google Earth. The layer and placeholder icons are there but when you click on them the images do not display.

In October Google did announce that it was shutting down Panoramio in favour of Google Street View. The announcement said that as of November 4th, 2016, new signups and uploads would be stopped. However, they indicated that users had until November, 2017 to download their photos and optionally transfer them to Street View. We assumed that this meant that they would keep the API that Google Earth uses running until November 2017. It would seem that that may not be the case.

If Google has shut down the Panoramio API it would be a great pity, as many parts of the world have almost no Street View photos whereas, Panoramio has near global coverage. We have recently been experimenting with capturing photos for Street View and the process is not well thought out and it seems to be impossible to put the captured photos in the correct place when Street View misplaces them. It makes logical sense for Google to only have one 360 degree photo service but they really need to improve the Street View offering as far as user contributions are concerned before completely shutting down Panoramio.

The loss of Panoramio photos in Google Earth is only one of several similar changes. In October two of the Google Earth weather layers were dropped. Recently we also noticed that the Earthquake layer is not updating correctly.

The post Panoramio photos not showing in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Villagers in India losing land to a changing river

lun 05-12-2016

The villagers of Kambakshpur in India are complaining that the Yamuna River near their village is changing course over time, resulting in them losing land. Interestingly, ‘The Hindu’ newspaper has made use of the new Google Earth global mosaics in historical imagery to investigate. Read the full story on The Hindu website.

Speed in milliseconds per image:


The changing course of the Yamuna River in India, 1989 to date

As we noted last week, although Google has provided global mosaics from 1985, in some locations, the early mosaics are actually identical. For the location above, the mosaics from 1985 to 1989 are identical, so we have started the animation from 1989.

Overall, land is being lost and gained about equally on both sides of the river. In addition a significant amount of farming land is being converted to residential property.

The post Villagers in India losing land to a changing river appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating the new Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics with a dynamic tour

ven 02-12-2016

Earlier this week Google added to Google Earth global mosaics based on Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016. Google Earth Engine provides animations for the data using a web based interface. We promised to release a way to animate the data in Google Earth.

Simply download this KML file and open it in Google Earth. Then switch to ‘historical imagery’ and find a location of interest then play the ‘Animation’ tour found in the KML. If you wish to move to a different location, close the tour, move to the new location, wait a moment, then open it again. Depending on your internet speed, either let the tour run through a couple of times to load all the imagery, or you can manually go through each year first to make sure it is loaded, then run the tour to see it animated.

Speed in milliseconds per image:


The growth of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics.

The imagery covers a period of just over 30 years and there is almost no place on the planet that hasn’t changed significantly in that time, so get exploring!

Remember these are long term changes, not month-to-month changes.

We chose a timing of one second per image. We would have liked to go faster, but Google Earth cannot handle faster tours and starts to skip images if you increase the speed.

The post Animating the new Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics with a dynamic tour appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for November 2016

jeu 01-12-2016

The biggest Google Earth news this month was the release of new global mosaics of Landsat/Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to date, and the release of Google Earth VR edition.

Speed in milliseconds per image:


The growth of Lusaka, Zambia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics.

We had a look at the artwork of Italian artist Dario Gambarin in the fields near the Italian town of Castagnaro. We had a look at the island of Ta’u that has recently installed a solar system from Tesla, including solar panels and large batteries. We also had a look at a number of other islands using renewable energy. Google released Edition 3 of the Voyager layers featuring the story of Saroo Brierley, who found his way home with the help of Google Earth. We have received number of complaints from GEB readers that it is not obvious how to get rid of the popup that is enabled by default. The solution is to deselect the Voyager layer. We had a look at how to enable 3D buildings in the flight simulator in Google Earth Pro, where, unlike the standard version, the 3D buildings are turned off by default. We used Sentinel 2 imagery to have a look at the large number of landslides near Kaikoura, New Zealand following a large earthquake in the region. We had a look at a tool created by GEB reader Michael Lee for putting photos in Google Earth. It differs from a similar tool we created in that ours creates photo overlays, whereas Micheal’s creates icons with the image in the popup. We had a look at Dolores, Uruguay and the damage caused by a tornado that struck it in April 2016. We had a look at several lightning strikes maps available for Google Earth. We had a look at various sights in Google Earth imagery, including an explosion at the Puma Energy plant in Nicaragua, the North Korean floods of August, 2016, a folk village that has been removed in North Korea, and the June 2016 Gay Pride Parade in New York. The countries of Albania and Montenegro got Street View. Google announced that it is merging Google Map Maker into Google Maps. We have noticed recently that they have stopped showing postcode boundaries in Google Maps. We don’t know if this is related to the change.

We started a series on animating in Google Earth. So far we have covered:
The pros and cons of different types of animation
How to import models
The time toolbar
Stay tuned for more posts in the series. We had a look at tornado tracks that we have been able to identify in Google Earth imagery. We had a look at the Google Earth built-in ‘Earthquakes’ layer and noted that it is not updating. We recommend using the USGS provided KML files instead. We had a look at some residents of Mars as part of a series we started in October.

The post The best of Google Earth for November 2016 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

More about the new Landsat / Sentinel 2 data in Google Earth

mer 30-11-2016

Yesterday Google surprised us by adding global mosaics created from Landsat and Sentinel 2 data to the Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’. The data comes to Google Earth via Google Earth Engine, which has long had this time-lapse feature that has just been updated to include imagery up to 2016. The timelapse page also tells us more about the imagery:

Using Earth Engine, we combined over 5 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades by 5 different satellites. The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s. For 2015 and 2016, we combined Landsat 8 imagery with imagery from Sentinel-2A, part of the European Commission and European Space Agency’s Copernicus Earth observation program.”

Google Earth Engine has also published this post about the update.

On Friday we will release a KML file that will allow you to view similar time-lapses from directly within Google Earth.

Today we are making a few observations about the imagery.

The first observation comes from GEB reader ‘haflaa’ who points out that although the mosaics are global for every year between 1985 and 2016, there are some locations, such as the Maldives, where the imagery is identical for a number of years. In the case of the Maldives, the imagery is identical from 1985 to 1999.

We also note that the Google Earth Engine animation starts in 1984, whereas the Google Earth data starts with December 1985 (which we presume represents the data for the whole of 1985).

The path of the satellite is often noticeable in the imagery. For more on the orbit of the Landsat satellites see this post and this post.

In many locations you will notice narrow stripes in the imagery. This is because of a faulty part on the Landsat 7 satellite. Learn more about it in this post.

The mosaics are created by trying to select imagery from throughout a given year then selecting cloud and snow free pixels where possible. However, there are a few locations on earth that are almost always cloudy, a problem we discussed in this post.

This location in Cameroon features both Landsat 7 stripes and clouds that just could not be eliminated.

The post More about the new Landsat / Sentinel 2 data in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth now has global Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016

mar 29-11-2016

Thank you for GEB reader Jonah for being the first to let us know. Google has added yearly global mosaics using Landsat and Sentinel 2 data going back to 1985. Google has long had these mosaics on Google Earth Engine which also provides a ‘Timelapse’ tool. As of this writing, the Google Earth Engine timelapse only goes up to 2012, but that will likely be updated too.

To see the mosaics, simply zoom out a bit and switch to ‘historical imagery’.

We plan to create tools to animate the new data, but that may take a few days.

Here are a few ‘before and afters’ showing changes between 1985 and 2016.

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The Amazon, 1985 vs 2016

Dubai, 1985 vs 2016

The region around Shenzhen, China, 1985 vs 2016

Note that the new data is created by blending all Landsat/Sentinel 2 data for a whole year to remove clouds and snow cover. The result is that changes that happen on timescales less than a year, such as seasonal changes, will not be visible.

Google has not (as of this writing) updated the historical imagery layer with all the high resolution imagery that has been added since June 2016.

There is one disadvantage to the new data – it is much harder to find historical imagery, as you need to zoom in very close to the earth to see the high resolution historical imagery.

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The land art of Dario Gambarin

lun 28-11-2016

We recently came across Italian artist Dario Gambarin who has been creating a large amount of land art in fields near the Italian town of Castagnaro. He creates his art in actively cultivated fields, so it typically does not last long. As a result, only a few of his works can be found in Google Earth imagery.

“No Inceneritore” – objecting to an incinerator being built in the region.

“Italia in Campo” (Italy in the field). Portrait of Italian football player Mario Balotelli featuring his mohawk hairstyle as seen from the back.

“In ricordo di Crevalcore” (In memory of Crevalcore). In memory of the 2012 Italian earthquake

“Benedictus XVI” A dove for the pope.

We found what appears to be the artist’s website, but it only shows his early works. A Google image search reveals a lot more artworks, including some that are particularly relevant to current news, including a portrait of Fidel Castro, who recently passed away, and a portrait of Donald Trump with the word ‘Ciao’ (bye) apparently created when it looked like Clinton would win the US election.

We were able to find the locations of most of Dario’s works listed on his website and have put together this KML file showing that he mostly uses the same seven fields again and again. There were a few that we failed to locate, so there may actually be more of his art in Google Earth imagery that we did not find.

The post The land art of Dario Gambarin appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Tesla powers an island

ven 25-11-2016

Tesla has recently agreed to merge with Solar City. To help publicise the merger, Solar City recently published this YouTube Video about a solar installation using Tesla’s ‘power pack’ batteries that now powers the island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

In Google Earth we can see the solar array under construction:

Ta’u is not the first island to be powered by solar. The nearby Island of Tokelau has been powered by solar since 2013. Sadly, the imagery is a bit old (a recurring theme in this post) and we cannot see the solar panels. The Danish island of Samso claims to be the first island in the world to go 100% renewable, but we could not find any imagery of their wind turbines.

A common complaint about renewables such as solar and wind, is what to do when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Tesla solves this problem with batteries. But another island, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, uses pumped water storage combined with wind turbines.

Moving away from islands, we had a look at this Wikipedia list of the largest photovoltaic power stations in the world (over 100 MW). Solar has really taken off around the world in the last few years, and Google Earth imagery can’t keep up. The second on the list, Kamuthi Solar Power Project, was built in just a few months between June and September 2016 and no sign of it can be seen in current Google Earth imagery. Top of the list is Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China, which can be seen in Landsat imagery when zoomed out, but as you zoom in to higher resolution satellite imagery, it disappears, as the high resolution imagery was captured before it was built.

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China.

We have put together this KML file which includes the above mentioned islands as well as the list from Wikipedia where coordinates are given.

The post Tesla powers an island appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth

jeu 24-11-2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are having a look at how to make your very own Thanksgiving card in Google Earth. This is based on a card Frank created back in 2006 and the instructions come from last year’s Thanksgiving post.

Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find a suitable image by doing a Google image search for ‘Thanksgiving’. Keep in mind that there may be copyright restrictions on such images, so they should really only be for personal use. Alternatively, you can get a bit more personal by creating your own image. That way you can write your own unique message. Ideally, you want to end up with an image that is roughly the correct proportions for the location you want to display it and also has a transparent background. Keep in mind that to use transparent backgrounds you need to save the image as a .png or .gif. We used Microsoft Word to create the image then took a screen shot and used Gimp to give it a transparent background. We used some clipart from

Next, you simply create an image overlay in Google Earth (click this icon on the toolbar). Adjust its size and location to suit and select your image to be shown.

If you wish to send your greeting to someone else, be sure to save the image overlay as a KMZ file, so that it includes the image in the file. KML files do not include images.

If you want to go all out, you could also decorate the sky, as we did for Halloween. Just download this file and replace the image in the overlay with your own Thanksgiving themed image.

An updated version showing how easy it is to do. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file

We also came across this interesting post, which features a KML file exploring the history of Thanksgiving.

The post Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google Earth

mer 23-11-2016

Google has just updated the ‘Voyager’ layer to Edition 3. As soon as you open Google Earth on your desktop you will see a window featuring the story of Saroo Brierly. We have featured Saroo’s story a number of times in the past. In summary, he got on a train as a child in India and got lost. He was subsequently adopted by a Tasmanian couple. When he grew up, he managed to find his original home and family with the use of Google Earth. See the new Google Earth Tour for the full story. (NOTE: you can keep the window from appearing by turning off the “Voyager” layer before you exit Google Earth).

Saroo wrote the book ‘A Long Way Home’ about his experiences. It has since been made into the movie ‘Lion’ opening in cinemas from November 25th, 2016. The film stars Dev Patel (of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame), Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.

The updated Voyager layer also contains two sub layers: 3D cities and Satellite imagery updates. The 3D cities layer is not worth bothering with, as it only shows a subset of recent additions to the 3D imagery. If you want a comprehensive map then rather use our KML file.

The ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer is certainly interesting, but again, is far from comprehensive, representing most likely only a single update, probably in late October or early November. The imagery featured is from a wide variety of dates, but mostly August to October, 2016, but it is not complete even for those months. Cape Town, for instance, has imagery from October that is not shown in the layer.

The voyager layers were first added to Google Earth in celebration of its 10th anniversary in June last year. Edition 2 was released in September of the same year and this is the first update since then. Sadly, Google has removed both previous editions.

The post The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

3D Buildings in Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro

mar 22-11-2016

Thank you to GEB reader Paul Moskowitz for bringing to our attention the fact that opening the flight simulator in Google Earth Pro automatically turns off the 3D buildings layer. The reason for this is that back in 2008 Google was concerned that showing 3D buildings in Flight Simulator mode would be a performance problem for some computers, so, with the release of Google Earth 4.3 they set the 3D buildings layer to be automatically disabled. At some point they reversed that decision, probably due to user complaints or the fact that computer performance has significantly increased since then, and they removed the setting from the standard version of Google Earth. However, it would appear that they forgot to do the same in Google Earth Pro. At the time, Google Earth Pro was a paid for product and thus was used only by people wanting specific features found only in Google Earth Pro. However, in January 2015, Google decided to make Google Earth Pro free and since then more and more people are using Google Earth Pro and ditching the standard version altogether. You can, however, have them both installed at the same time if you wish.

The result is that more people will be trying out the Google Earth Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro, so we thought it would be a good time to relook at a workaround that Frank posted in 2008 for getting the 3D buildings back in Flight Simulator mode. These steps must be repeated each time you enter Flight Simulator mode:

  1. Enter Flight Simulator mode – Select Tools->Enter Flight Simulator (Windows/Linux) or Options->Enter Flight Simulator (Mac)
    or Ctrl + Alt + A(Windows/Linux) or + Option + A (Mac)
    Optional: fly to a city which has 3D buildings (grab our KML map to find out where).

  2. Hit SPACE to pause the flight simulator.

  3. Open the SidebarSidebar shortcut – Press Ctrl + Alt + B (Windows/Linux)
    or + Option + B (Mac) to bring up the sidebar.

  4. Turn on 3D Buildings – Turn these on in the Layers pane in the lower left after the sidebar opens.

  5. Turn Off SidebarIMPORTANT – before resuming the flight simulator, turn off the sidebar by hitting the sidebar shortcut from step 2.

  6. Resume flight – Now you can resume flying the flight simulator by hitting the SPACE key and the 3D buildings should stay on for your current flight.

NOTE: – See GEB’s Tips on Using Flight Simulator.

The post 3D Buildings in Flight Simulator in Google Earth Pro appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Kaikoura Earthquake Landslides

lun 21-11-2016

On November 14, 2016, the South Island of New Zealand experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake named the Kaikoura Earthquake after the town of Kaikoura near the quake’s epicentre. The affected region is mountainous with steep slopes and the earthquake resulted in a large number of landslides, including creating some landslide dams (a topic we have covered in the past).

The Landslide Blog has done a number of posts on the Kaikoura landslides (1, 2, 3 and 4). It also mentions this article, which shows a map of the locations of the landslides so far identified using Sentinel 2 imagery.

We thought it would be interesting to examine the sentinel 2 Imagery in Google Earth. The image in question has quite a lot of cloud cover, but in the gaps between the clouds we can see the scars of a large number of landslides. It must be noted that landslides appear to be common in the region, with many landslide scars being visible in older imagery, too. Here are a couple of ‘before and afters’ showing just how many landslides there were in some places.
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After image: Copernicus Sentinel data, 2016.

After image: Copernicus Sentinel data, 2016.

We processed the Sentinel 2 imagery using GeoSage’s Spectral Discovery.

To explore the Sentinel 2 imagery for yourself using Google Earth download this KML file

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A Google Earth Photo tool

ven 18-11-2016

GEB reader Michael Lee is sharing a free tool he created for importing geotagged photos into Google Earth. It is only available for Windows. It comes in two versions, a standalone version and one with an installer

It is very easy to use. Rather than opening the program directly, you drag and drop a photo, or a folder containing multiple photos onto the program icon or a shortcut to the program. It then creates a KML and opens it in Google Earth. The KML shows camera icons where your photos are. To see a photo when you click on an icon, you first need to save the KML file into the folder where your photos are and reopen it in Google Earth. Note that you cannot drag and drop multiple photos at once, but rather put them into a folder which you can drag and drop.

Note that the installer can create an icon on the desktop which you can drag and drop photos onto, but it does not create a start menu item as the program is not designed to be run by clicking directly on its icon. The installer also adds an entry in the ‘Send to’ section of the right-click menu so you can simply right-click on a photo or folder and select Send to->GEPix.

We created a similar tool using JavaScript which you can find here. Our version creates photo overlays rather than icons with photos in the popup.

Michael Lee is the creator of GPStamper, a tool which takes geolocation information and writes it into an image as text.

The post A Google Earth Photo tool appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Releases Google Earth VR for HTC Vive

mer 16-11-2016

Google has released a free new version of Google Earth on a totally different computing platform: Virtual Reality (VR). Google imaginatively calls it Google Earth VR. Specifically, for now, this version is for the HTC Vive which is the only consumer platform with dedicated 3D controllers for interacting in VR. Download link for GEVR (from the official Steam page). You can watch the Google Earth VR demonstration video from the Google announcement below:

Based on my reviewing it today, Google is taking great advantage of VR with the new version. You can view the Earth, and all its places, in an entirely different perspective. Because, now Google Earth’s 3D content is fully stereoscopic 3D, and immerses you in cities, valleys, mountains, etc. You can use the 3D controller to fly yourself around, or drag the sun to get a different sun angle, or see the stars at night above your chosen landscape or city. Google has chosen to give you a non-human scale, so when you are viewing places like cities – you feel like a giant who can reach out and hug a skyscraper, or give a hug to Half Dome or the Matterhorn. Since the Vive allows you to move around your room, you can literally walk around mountains, canyons, buildings, and more. [EDIT: It is possible to change setting in the menu options so you can feel more human scale sized].

Google starts the program by offering you a basic tour which flies you to several well-known locations on Earth. The first time you experience it, you will probably have a strong “Wow” feeling as the scenery is stereoscopic 3D, and you can look in any direction. I sure had that reaction myself! In addition, Google uses 3D audio and music for the tours. In some places you hear city street sounds, in one you hear the church bells of a nearby cathedral, and in nature shots you might hear some wind or car noises from a nearby highway. It definitely adds to the realism of the scenes.

After the tour, you end up with a full view of the Earth in space (an amazing experience), and are then given tips on using the controllers to drag the Earth, and fly down to see whatever place you like. You can also pop up a menu that gives you choices of other tours, and selections of cities and places you might want to visit. The controls also enable you to take screenshots. One of my favorite features is that you can point the controller at the sun and drag it across the sky, or below the horizon to make the sky switch to night (where you will see the stars and milky way in all its glory).

There’s more to learn about the interfaces than you might first realize. One surprise I got is that if you point at the controller in one of your hands (the one which shows a globe with the current position) with the other controller, the globe grows to a larger version of the Earth with a pin showing your current position. You can then use the other controller to rotate the earth, and point at a rough position on the globe and drop a new pin to fly to that location. This is a very cool feature and immediately reminded me of the scene in the book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, that one of the original developers of Google Earth said was originally an inspiration for the first version of our favorite program.

Google Earth VR controllers selecting location

It’s great to see Google finally release something new and exciting for Google Earth. A new version of Google Earth has been rumored for over two years for the desktop/mobile platforms that will be a complete re-write. But, we have yet to see even a test version in the wild for the new Google Earth. So, we are still waiting.

Since I’ve been spending the last year working with VR technologies, I’m particularly glad to see Google Earth for this new exciting immersive platform. They have released the program for the HTC Vive via the Steam gaming platform (the Vive was largely developed by the makers of Steam at Valve Corporation), which is the biggest platform for VR content. Considering the cost for HTC Vive ($800 – not including a beefy PC and graphics card), and it having been released less than a year ago, there are estimated to be fewer than 300,000 Vive owners at this point. Still, for Google to release now is a big statement about the future of VR. I suspect versions for Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR, and quite probably for Google’s new Daydream View VR platform.

Some other observations about Google Earth VR:

1) They use a “comfort mode” technique (dwhich you can turn off in the menus) which shrinks your view while you are “flying” in Google Earth. This minimizes your peripheral vision and thereby helps lower visual-induced motion sickness. It’s actually quite effective. I tried turning it off in the menu and definitely felt less comfortable when flying inside VR. Once you stop moving, you get the full 360 panorama back, and you can still swivel your view while flying.

2) If you are looking to buy the Vive, HTC is now bundling Google Earth VR with it. Which is kind of silly when you consider its a free app, so it’s not exactly a value add.

3) An important note is that the Google Earth 3D terrain is simplified in in detail for GEVR compared to what’s available in the desktop version of Google Earth. [EDIT: Turns out GEVR made me realize Google at some point reduced 3D terrain fidelity for some places where formerly they had higher resolution data. After checking the desktop I found both GEVR and desktop GE now have lower resolution in formerly higher resolution locations.]

4) If you are standing in your room with your Vive (as most Vive users do), then you will notice you never are lower than about 50 meters off the ground. If you want to look closer at the ground, you can get your head closer to the ground (where you are standing) and look closer. This might not be obvious at first, so I thought I would mention it.

The post Google Releases Google Earth VR for HTC Vive appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The Dolores, Uruguay Tornado

mer 16-11-2016

We have often looked at tornado tracks for the US and we recently looked at one in China but this is the first time we have come across one in South America.

According to Wikipedia it was an F3 rated tornado that struck the town of Dolores, Uruguay on April, 15th 2016. It destroyed at least 400 homes and buildings, killing five people and injuring more than 250.

Here are some ‘before and afters’ showing the damage caused:

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Unfortunately Google has not updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer since June, so we cannot see all the imagery. Google has chosen only parts of the relevant imagery for the default layer. This is most likely because the other parts have cloud cover.

You can see a video of the tornado here.

To find the location in Google Earth download this KML file

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post The Dolores, Uruguay Tornado appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Lightning strikes map in Google Earth

mar 15-11-2016

We recently came across this article which talks about a study that uses lightning monitoring to better predict the weather. The study used data from the University of Washington based World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN), which gathers information about lightning strikes around the world using a network of ground based censors. The WWLLN website shows animated maps of recent lightning strikes, but also provides this KML file which shows 1 hour of global data ending 6 hours ago in Google Earth.

One thing I have personally noticed while living in Cape Town is how rare lightning is here compared to Zambia. This observation is borne out by this map that Frank put in Google Earth back in 2006 using a NASA created map.

The post Lightning strikes map in Google Earth appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Various new sights in Google Earth imagery

lun 14-11-2016

Today we are having a look at various sights that can be seen in recent additions to Google Earth’s imagery.

Puma Energy plant explosion
On August 18th, 2016 there was an explosion at the Puma Energy plant in Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua.
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‘Before and after’ showing the two tanks that exploded.

North Korean Floods
In late August, 2016, Typhoon Lionrock caused flooding in Japan, China, Russia and most notably, North Korea, along the Korean-Chinese border. According to Wikipedia, the North Korean flooding killed at least 138 people, and destroyed more than 35,000 homes, leaving over 100,000 people homeless.

Here are some ‘before and after’s’ showing some of the houses washed away. Be sure to explore the area in Google Earth, switching between current imagery and ‘historical imagery’ to see the changes to the river channel.


Folk Village in North Korea removed
A folk village, (or folklore park) has recently been dismantled, reportedly because it reminded North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of his uncle who was executed in 2013.

Gay Pride Parade, New York
In New York, we can see the Gay Pride Parade that took place on 26th June, 2016.

Find the above locations in Google Earth with this KML file.

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post Various new sights in Google Earth imagery appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones