DIY in-car navigation with Google Earth

On my way back from San Francisco to London I again had plenty of time to ponder how Google Earth would do a better job at in-flight tracking than the same standard visualization we’ve been familiar with for what must be a decade now. The current stuff look seriously aged.

Another place where Google Earth is an obvious fit is for in-car navigation and tracking. Volkswagen has already shown us a compelling working prototype, but who knows when that will make it to market.

No need to wait. Over in’s forums, Ryan McCormick has created a Google Earth skin for a touchscreen interface or tablet PC that lets you use Google Earth as an in-car navigator today.


The installation process doesn’t look idiot-proof (I haven’t tried it myself) and it works best with version 3 rather than with 4 beta. But for everyone who is adventurous (and has a touchscreen or tablet PC and a 3G modem and a GPS device and perhaps even a car) this looks like a hack well worth exploring.

How is it done? Ryan used AutoIt for the scripting part, his own SKINBedder for the buttons that frame Google Earth, and GooPS for the GPS tracking. There is a whole subculture for adapting PC applications for car computers — more here about that niche.

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