New Device Mashes Maps and the Real World in Real-Time

April 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Environment   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

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:

Enkin from Enkin on Vimeo.

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.

The Growing Impact of Towns and Cities in Google Earth

July 28 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future
Category: Environment   Year: General   Rating: 3

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 Google Earth 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 engage users.

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 benefits.

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.

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