to see if a hotel is as close to the beach as it claims? Have a birds-eye view of the city you are about to visit?
Visually see the best route to take on a road trip? Or perhaps see how
old neighborhoods have developed since you were last there? Well now,
those things and much more are possible thanks to Google's quite
incredible new tool - Google Earth.
Earth is a satellite imagery-based mapping system, based on Keyhole
technology, that combines 3D buildings and terrain with mapping capability and,
as if that were not enough to keep you occupied, even Google search.
for download free of charge, Google Earth, which is still in Beta, allows users to fly from space to
see street level views to find geographic information and explore places around the
world, all from the comfort of your own computer.
"Google Earth utilizes broadband streaming technology and 3D graphics, much like a videogame, enabling users to interactively explore the
world - either their own neighborhood or the far corners of the globe," said John
Hanke, general manager, Keyhole, Google Inc.
The whole world is covered with medium resolution imagery and terrain data. This resolution allows
users to see major geographic features and man-made developments such as towns,
and to a certain extent individual buildings. Additional high resolution imagery which reveals detailed individual buildings
and also detailed road maps is currently available for most major cities in the
U.S., U.K., Western Europe and Canada.
Earth, is not only a very high-tech, fun and distracting toy, but also an
ideal tool for travellers, as the integrated Google Local Search allows
users to find local information such as hotels, restaurants, schools, parks, and transportation.
Such information will enable users to dive deeper into local
communities, whether exploring a holiday destination or researching a new home or apartment.
Search results can even be saved for later use.
For users interested in more
advanced mapping capabilities, Google is also offering Google Earth Plus
for US$20/year, which offers additional features such as GPS compatibility, data import, and
annotation. Google Earth Pro, at US$400/year, is for commercial use and offers high-resolution printing and GIS data import capabilities.
some locations do look a bit blurry, Google Earth already has high resolution imagery (greater than
1 meter) for thousands of cities and plans to increase this number as it
moves forward. The potential for such a unique and visually appealing
Search Tool is quite simply enormous, and while improvements in certain
areas do need to be made, this is one tool we are sure to hear a lot
more about as Google continues its development. Google
Earth can be downloaded free of charge here.