As the geospatial web evolves we’re going to see volumes of
products that mash together data and location, ultimately bringing
us to a state where all physical places can be experienced a
thousand different ways.
One of the more promising masher prototypes I’ve seen to date is
a product called Enkin that smoothly blends “GPS,
orientation sensors, 3D graphics, live video, several web services
and a novel user interface into an intuitive and light navigation
system for mobile devices.” In other words, you can walk around
with your mobile device, flip between real and simulated views, and
generate tags that exist on both layers.
Developed by a pair of nerdy, ambitious Germans for the Google
Android Developer Challenge, Enkin is truly a breakthrough package
of gizmos that clearly demonstrates the potential for Physical/Web
mixing and overlays.
Take a look at their slow-paced, yet wowing demo vid:
Judging by the simplicity of the device, I think it’s fair to
assume that we’ll see such real-time location-informed mashers
built into devices like the iPhone inside of two years, and
incorporated into GPS navigation systems
for automobiles inside a year.
The world is about to get tagged. Big props to Google’s
self-serving yet positive-sum innovation contests.
In its effort to catalog and effectively share the world’s
information, Google continues to improve its dynamic representation
of earth and has now extended its reach to cities and towns.
The first time I experienced Google Earth, I was pretty
impressed. Accessing satellite information, I was able to navigate
most any location on the planet that I was interested in, from a
bird’s eye view. Of course the first thing I did was check out my
street, the homes of my past, and landmarks around my town.
Next I was introduced to Street View, a
visualization composed of photos taken from automobiles that allows
full 3D street navigation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when
Street View was at last integrated with Google Maps, that I could
travel down my street take a glance at my house and my car parked
neatly on the curb. That was really cool to me. I found myself
wondering where I was the time the photos was taken, and being
thankful they hadn’t caught me outside my
house in an early morning stupor.
After some light research I found that Google isn’t just
concerned with satisfying my curiosity. It has found ways to make
money with this technology while expanding its functionality for
important, decision-making parties.
Google introducing advanced versions of the platform with
Pro ($400/year), a collaborative tool for commercial and
professional use and Google Earth
Plus ($20/year) for everyday map enthusiasts. It also provides
non-profit organizations with Earth Outreach, a
program that allows organizations to map their projects to help
In March 2008, Google Earth introduced Cities in 3D which is
unsurprisingly a complete 3D visualization of numerous cities. To
contribute to this effort, users can submit and share renditions of
structures and buildings using Google’s SketchUp. The program
primarily relies on city governments to submit their 3D information
electronically (for free) and invites them to review the
The benefits for local governments seem rather extensive. They
include: engaging the public in planning, fostering economic
development, boosting tourism, simplifying navigation analysis,
enhancing facilities management, supporting security and crime
prevention, and facilitating emergency management.