Simple, effective, cross-platform position sharing has just made it to Google Earth: It’s called GE Sharing, it’s by a German new media company called DIVIS, and it works like a dream. They’ve even got a way to monetize it:-)
I’ve just been showing my brother-in-law Nazz in London some cool places here in Cairo on Google Earth, and then he showed some cool places in London. Here’s how we did it:
I went to this page. I entered my name and email, Nazz’s name and email, and clicked the submit button. (Click on the UK flag for the English version.)
We both got an email from DIVIS, each with a different, unique KML file. We fired up Google Earth (he on a PC, me on a Mac) by double-clicking on the file. My KML file contains two network links, selectable via radio buttons — one for serving my position and view, and one for following Nazz’s position and view.
Because I sent the email, my network links is originally set to server, while Nazz’s is set to client. Until both our network links sync, the cute graphical overlay looks like this:
When we’re both ready to move, the graphic turns into this:
As I move, my network link sends my position data to DIVIS’s server, which instantly uses it to update Nazz’s network link. The client network link updates every time the view stops moving, so it is always on the move if I am. We used a chat program to communicate while we moved, and the combined effect was natural and fluid.
When it was time for Nazz to show me something, I selected the “client” network link while he selected “server”. They synced, and suddenly my copy of GE followed him. It just works.
- The default fly-to speed may be too slow if the other person is moving rapidly. Setting this to around 2 on both ends worked well for us.
- There is currently no way to turn off both network links, so one is always checking the server. It would be nice to be able to keep these in the Places sidebar for later use without the constant checking.
How is this different from Unype? Because GE Sharing doesn’t rely on the Windows API, it is platform independent. However, for the same reason, it can’t do some things Unype does, like layer visibility syncing, avatar depiction and model sharing. But for showing potential holiday spots to far-away family members, or taking house buyers on a remote tour of available properties, this can’t be beat for its robust simplicity.
How is DIVIS planning to monetize this? Simple: one-on-one sharing is free, but one-to-many sharing will be a pay service.