I was over at a friend’s house the other day and on his computer he showed me his own house as viewed by a satellite in Earth’s orbit. It was awesome. The screen started out looking at our great blue planet, then he typed in his house’s address (he had programmed it in, as only the USA, UK, and Canada have the ability to find an address automatically so far) and the planet turned to our country. Then it zoomed in further and further until we could see the roof of his house! My genetic father (mother has been married thrice) lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, so I typed in his address, the world shifted around, zoomed in, and all of a sudden I could see the roof of his house, the swimming pool in the backyard, driveway and street, trees etc. It was a real mind-blower. One of the best things about www.google. earth.com is that we can now look at real photographs of any part of the world: pyramids in Egypt, Shanghai city, beaches in Jamaica, you can go and look at any place on the globe. All you need to do is point and click your computer’s mouse on any spot (address unnecessary), and it’s free.
I eventually found my own house (it will be much easier when the whole world has been mapped by street names on the free downloadable version) and I think that the 20$ version has a GPS (Global positioning system) which must make finding things a lot easier. You can also get directions to local areas such as restaurants, parks, hospitals, schools and hotels. The idea is to combine Google’s search abilities with imagery and mapping and I think it has great ramifications for the future of location information. You can then save and share your location searches with your friends and colleagues as well as adding your own data, as in my friend’s case. Google Earth’s users have already saved thousands of personal data points for you to look at and add to: EG: Show people where your business is located.
Another neat aspect of the technology is that you can tilt and rotate the satellite’s view to give you a more 3-D perspective on buildings, mountains and landmarks on the terrain. Many people have asked me if the photos are real time and if you run out front of your house will you see yourself? We would need a lot of satellites out in orbit if we hoped to have this kind of ‘Big Brother’ capability and I‘m sure ethical questions would also be raised.
If you are looking for directions the program will actually drive or fly you on the best route to get where you are going. The website has photos of ten of the most popular ‘destinations’ so you can check out the quality of the high-resolution photos. With the ‘Measure’ tool you can see how far it is to the local airport or from Paris to London. With the ‘Pro’ version at $200 (there are three versions) you can also measure area, radius, and perimeter, which can have many applications in professional situations. There are also different layers of mapping information you can click on so all the volcanoes or golf courses will come up automatically if they are what you choose to see in a specific area. If you are searching for places to dine, when a restaurant comes up on the screen you can click on ‘more’ and information such as hours of operation, menus, reviews, and links to the business website become available.
Pretty cool huh! The only problem you may have is that your computer may not be powerful enough to handle the software or 3-D graphics capability. You also miss out if you own a Macintosh, as a compatible version hasn’t been built for them yet. Don’t take my word for it, go to the site and check it out. You may find that it has applications that could change the face of your business as well as the way you look at traversing our world, not to mention the ease to which you will be able to locate pizzas anywhere on Earth.
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer doesn’t have the whole, wide world in his hands…but he does have it on his computer.