Links: Radiohead GIS, multitouch OSes, Galaxy Zoo

Ogle Earth is back, or rather back-logged after a lovely European vacation, so here is a first stab at diminishing that field of to-do flags on my screen:

  • Radiohead in Google Earth! Radiohead’s new music video is made entirely from live 3D scanning techniques, with the entire 3D dataset available for further tinkering. And tinkering is what The Swordpress does, producing a totally awesome face of Thom Yorke hovering over Google Earth as a KML file:

    (KML file here.) I hope more tinkering is coming — an obvious request is to use KML’s timeline support to animate Thom in Google Earth, though there is real risk of this precipitating a geek singularity.

  • Multitouch Mac and PCs: When will we be able to zoom out of Google Earth simply by pinching a trackpad or multi-touch aware surface? For OS X, the framework will be in place with the next release of OS X, dubbed Snow Leopard, reports Apple Insider. Microsoft is putting the capability into Vista’s successor, Windows 7. Both OS releases are slated for 2009 — will this be the next great revolution in the mainstream UI? In a sense, it’s already here with the iPhone, which has an additional ability to use its built-in accelerometer as input, but some of the coolest stuff you can’t do yet because iPhones have battery and screen constraints.
  • Mobile Google Earth? If you watch the question-and-answer session at the end of Google Geo team CTO Michael Jones’s presentation at Google I/O on May 28 2008, you’ll learn that there is a will to create a mobile version of Google Earth, but that the timing will depend on when mobile devices become good enough to provide sufficient GPU power without draining batteries.

    So it is a question of when, not if. But if you had to bet on which mobile OSes will get this functionality, which would they be? My money is on Android (Google’s own) and iPhone (based on Mac OS X, for which a version already exists.) What about Nokia’s open-source Symbian, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and RIM’s Blackberry OS? Will these be served by browser-based virtual Earths? Will Virtual Earth get a mobile version, and will it run on just Windows Mobile?

  • While I was away: Google Earth got a minor update, ArcGIS Explorer got a substantial update (version 480, gaining GeoRSS support), and Google Earth’s dataset got an update (especially in Australia).
  • Clickable countries: Over at Aid Worker Daily, Jonathan Thompson makes the case for “clickable countries”for Google Earth, the ability to restrict your mapping dataset to just your immediate environment, to help cope with restricted or high-cost bandwidth in developing countries, especially during disasters. An interesting idea. I’m just afraid that if it gets implemented, countries with governments that are averse to the open society will take Google to court with a view to having their country “unclicked”.
  • Google Sky hearts Galaxy Zoo: Galaxy Zoo (blogged here) is an astronomical mechanical turk for sorting galaxies. It has already paid off in the form of the discovery of a very unique and strange object (“voorwerp”) that defies all classification, as reported in ScienceNews last month (part 1 and part 2). Now Google has given the project a $50,000 grant to incorporate Galaxy Zoo into Google Sky and add Google Sky features to Galaxy Zoo. Galaxy Zoo 2 is also under development.

In case you were wondering how my (forced) cloud-based productivity test went: I’ve been made all-too painfully aware over the past several weeks why I need a MacBook Pro and not just any old computer with a browser in an internet café. Moore’s law rocks, and may it continue to hold for a long time coming.

4 thoughts on “Links: Radiohead GIS, multitouch OSes, Galaxy Zoo”

  1. With Google placing Radiohead ringtones ads next to this entry, I hope editorial policy from here on out will be to strain to find linkages between GE and trendy pop culture.

    Best comment I heard about the Radiohead video was from a Colorado LIDAR guy: “I don’t think I’d be eager to have somebody shoot LIDAR at my face…”

  2. Very good point. One possible way to avoid such a hassle would be for Google to make the layer available only to Google Earth Pro grant licenses. This would give most major NGO’s, which have 501c3 status, access to the layer. By initially offering it as a ‘paid for’ upgrade Google might be able to avoid any claims by disgruntled countries. Later on, if all goes well, they could enable the service in the free version.

  3. Just one quick nitpick: something cannot be very unique. If an object is unique there is only one of it and being unique is a binary property: it is, or it is not.

  4. David: Fixed!

    Brian: I think they used something else for the face closeups.

    Jon: I’m just afraid that if the capability exists, countries will argue in court to have it implemented.

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