Google Earth And VPlanet Explorer

In Neal Stephenson's seminal 1992 novel Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist is given an amazing service - ordinarily available only to the wealthy - for free.

There is something new: A globe about the size of a grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm's length in front of his eyes. Hiro has heard about this but never seen it. It is a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns - all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.

Hiro has been thinking that in a few years, if he does really well in the intel biz, maybe he will make enough money to subscribe to Earth and get this thing in his office. Now it is suddenly here, free of charge...
(Read more about CIC Virtual Earth)

Now there are several new products that can bring you a very similar functionality. Google announced on Tuesday that it is giving us all access to a virtual Earth - and you can get a lot out of it for free. VPlanet Explorer combines terabytes of data from satellites, aerial photos and base maps.


(From Google Earth)

Thanks in part to its acquisition of Keyhole Corp., a digital mapping company, Google can now offer you a search box that will take you from outer space straight to any large city on earth. Focus on buildings of interest, or zoom out of town. Images may be up to eighteen months old, at best about one meter is resolved, only PCs can use it (Mac development is ongoing), and you need a good graphics card.


(From Google Earth Sample)

VPlanet Explorer was developed in Europe to process and view geo-referenced data, as well as images. Both products are capable of utilizing a fly-through interface.

Read more about Google's free 3D service brings views of Earth down to the PC and visit Google Earth; read about Taking a virtual view of the world (VPlanet) and visit the Virtual Planet website. Thanks to Jason Fraser for the tip on the story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/30/2005)

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