Virtual Tourism

Virtual tourism, google maps mashup, google video

Google Censors Competitors in Streetview

As of this morning Google has removed all street view images from Google Maps that feature the logos of Yahoo, Microsoft and Apple. Any street view location that had previously shown the logo of a Google competitor now has a blank screen announcing "This is image is no longer available."

You can see this in action in the three embedded street views below:

A spokesperson for Google Maps, Olaf Pirlo, said

"Google is not in the business of censorship. These images have only been removed because users have flagged them as 'inappropriate'."

New Streetview Cities Added

Google have today announced a number of new street view cities. The new cities are:
We will of course be trawling these new cities to add to our Streetview Map.

For example - is this the Parthenon in Nashville?

New Hubblecast Video

I've added the latest Hubblecast video to the Star Viewer map. To watch the new video scroll down the links on the left hand side of the Star Viewer page and click on the Vulpecula link.

The Hubblecast videos continue to surprise me with the quality of their production. In particular the CGI work on these videos is amazing. With Google's release of the on-line version of Google Sky I thought it might not be worth carrying on with the Star Viewer map. However the Hubblecast videos alone make it worth carrying on (particularly as Google Sky on-line seems to have a problem with embedded videos).

Plus for some reason the Star Viewer map is very popular in Japan.

View the Hubblecast video on the Star Viewer map.

Streetview Tours

Streetview of Lombard Street
Here is a very early, early glimpse of a new project called Streetview Tours.

This is an experiment with streetview, which will give you descriptions of where you are as you walk around.

I'm really excited about this as I think it has huge potential.

This example stands on the shoulders of two giants. I have only been able to achieve this because of work by Mike Williams and his Google Maps Tutorials and amazing work on the new streetview options in the Google Maps API by Map Channels

Streetview Tour

Streetview Tours

Click on the link above and you will see another implementation of the streeview function that is being added to the Google Maps API. It is based almost completely on code developed by Map Channels for their Street Driver. All I've really added is an event listener to display the location below the streetview

Go and have a look at the Street Driver. Even though it is still in development it is amazing.

My thinking is that this could be developed into a virtual tour of an area by streetview with some dynamic description at the side of the streetview that updates as the location changes. However I'm not sure how to do that yet :).

Hint: If you click on the streetview you can then change the direction that you are looking with the arrow keys of your keyboard.

The Great Mosque of Djenné

Great Mosque of Djenné
The Great Mosque of Djenné is the largest mud brick or adobe building in the world and is considered by many architects to be the greatest achievement of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style, albeit with definite Islamic influences. The mosque is located in the city of Djenné, Mali on the flood plain of the Bani River.

The first mosque on the site was built in the 13th century, but the current structure dates from 1907. As well as being the centre of the community of Djenné, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa. Along with the "Old Towns of Djenné" it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.

View a Great Mosque of Djenné on Google Maps

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Google Rival to Google Maps

Google have updated their Chart API to include simple maps. The Chart API lets users turn data into a static image of a chart that can then be added to a web page like any other image. The new map feature in the API now also allows users to add an image of a simple map to a web page.

The geographical areas that can be mapped are
  • africa
  • asia
  • europe
  • middle east
  • south america
  • usa
  • world
Within each of the map areas above individual states or countries can be coloured.

This is an example of the world map with a few countries (at random) coloured blue.

As you can see the Chart API provides a static map. Obviously Google Maps allows developers to do far more exciting things but this new feature of the Chart API does provide web developers with a quick and easy(ish) method to provide a simple map.

Streetview Map

I've added a search option to the Streetview Map I've been developing as an example of the new features in the Google Maps API.

If you search for an address on the map if there is a streetview available for that address it will open. If there is no streetview available the address will just be tagged on the map.

If you are interested in developing a map based on the new streetview features of the Google Maps API this example map shows how to open a streetview from a map click, from a sidebar link and from a geocode search.

South Bank Walk

Tower BridgeA couple of weeks ago I promised to shoot the missing videos for The South Bank Walk Map. Unfortunately since then the British Isles has been beset by hurricane force winds and endless rain.

Not to be outdone by the weather I have uploaded some videos from YouTube as a temporary measure. Hopefully we will get a little Spring sunshine soon and I'll be able to shoot the missing videos.

View a South Bank Walk on Google Map.

St Patrick's Day

Google Maps are celebrating St. Patrick's Day by changing the Google Maps street view icon to a little green man sitting on a shamrock.

Ireland is one area of the world that is very neglected on this site. However we do have this video map for
Brú na Bóinne

Google Sky vs Star Viewer

Google SkyStar Viewer I wonder where Google got the idea for orange text on a black background for their new Google Sky (web)?

Here is a screenshot from Google Sky (released yesterday) and a screenshot from our own Star Viewer (released in January).

Coincidence is a funny thing.

I do like some of their design innovations. For example having image links to galaxies along the bottom of the screen rather than text links in a sidebar (as in our Star Viewer) is an inspired idea.

I wonder if they'll mind if we copy them:).

Streetview Example

I've been working on the new streetview feature of the Google Maps API. I've worked out how to create links that will open streetviews at a specified location.

What I now need to work out is how to set the direction and the elevation of the streetview. I've now worked out how to set the direction and the elevation of the streetview from the link (OK - genius Mike Williams of the Google Maps API Tutorial worked it out for me). All I need to do now is create hundreds of links to interesting streetviews. Luckily I know a handy source - Street Viewer.

View the example Streetview Map

And while we are on Google Maps Streetview the Boston Herald found this topless streetview of Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina.

Google Sky On-Line Launches

Google have today launched Google Sky on-line. Google Sky has been available via Google Earth since August and was added to the Google Maps API at the tail end of last year.

I've written a fuller review of Google Sky for the Google Maps Mania blog which you can read here.

Once you've had a look at Google's new Google Sky page compare it to our own Star Viewer page.

Street View Added to Maps API

Google have yet to make an official announcement but it looks like street view has been added to the Google Maps API.

I have put together a quick example. This example is built on an example written by Mike Williams of Google Maps API Tutorial Fame.

And while where on experiments. Here is a Virtual Earth demo of geo-tagging photos. If you click on the next photo button really fact it almost a street view type experience. The demo was produced by Dave Bouwman.

And here is a Silverlight example of deep zooming which I think is pretty impressive.

The last two examples come via: The Virtual Earth Blog

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion
The Brighton Pavilion, like yesterday's post on Edinburgh Castle, is a building I've long wanted to create a video map for but have been thwarted by the lack of decent videos. Well Jonathan Meades has come to my rescue yet again.

The Royal Pavilion is a marvellous fun building in Brighton in the UK. It is built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent in India for most of the 19th century and not the kind of building you would normally expect to come across in an English seaside town. It was built in the early 19th Century as a seaside retreat for the then Prince Regent.

View a map of Brighton Pavilion on Google Maps

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Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle
I have wanted to create a video map of the magnificent Edinburgh Castle for years but have never been able to find a decent video of the castle. Now along come six videos all at once. All six of the videos are actually part of the same programme by Jonathan Mears on the castle, which he shot as part of his Abroad in Britain series. Which is good news for those, like me, who love this building.

Edinburgh Castle is an ancient stronghold which dominates the sky-line of the city of Edinburgh from its position atop Castle Rock. It is Scotland's second most visited tourist attraction. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC. As it stands today though, few of the castle's structures pre-date the Lang Siege of the 16th century, with the notable exception of St Margaret's Chapel, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, which dates from the early 12th century.

View a video of Edinburgh Castle on Google Maps

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South Bank Walk

Map of the south bankWe have today added a London South Bank Walk to our ever growing collection of video maps.

The walk along London's South Bank of the Thames from the Houses of Parliament in the west to Tower Bridge in the east most be one of London's best walks. The sights on this walk include Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tate Modern, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, to name just a few.

At the moment we only have videos for the London Eye, Tate Modern, St. Paul's Cathedral and City Hall but weather permitting, we hope to fill in the gaps in the next few weeks.

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Streetview Censored

Google have removed streetview imagery of Fort Sam, Houston, as you can see from the embedded streetview below.

Apparently Google's streetview car was granted access to the fort but in the last week someone in the military woke up to the fact that it might not be a good idea to so readily publicise guard posts, barriers, entrances to buildings etc. They contacted Google who agreed and quickly removed the imagery.

Satellite View Update

Space Shuttle
Today we have added a couple of new categories to our Satellite View Map. The new categories are nuclear power plants and space rockets.

The nuclear power plants category maps over 200 power plants around the world and the rocket category maps all the rockets caught by Google Maps satellite imagery.

The Satellite View Map now has close to 13,000 views mapped.

View the Satellite View Map

You can view the rockets in Google Earth by downloading the kml from the Google Earth Community. The rockets kml was a featured placemark in the The Sightseer, which is an excellent monthly newsletter covering all the latest news for Google Earth.

The Forbes Rich List

Forbes have printed a list of the World's Richest Billionaires. Two years ago, half of the world's 20 richest were from the U.S. Now only four are.

To get a better idea of the geographical spread of the 25 richest people in the world we need a map. So here it is: The Top 25 Billionaires.

Fire Eagle Launches

Yahoo have launched Fire Eagle (invite only) which promises to revolutionise the geo-web. Yahoo say that Fire Eagle was "designed to help users safely share information about their location with sites, services and people on the Internet."

Essentially you can broadcast your location with any device to Fire Eagle and your geo-data can be made available to any application by Fire Eagle. Here is Tom Coates, one of the developers, introducing Fire Eagle at ETech.

London City Hall

London City Hall
City Hall is the headquarters of the Greater London Authority and the Mayor of London. It stands on the south bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge. Designed by Norman Foster, it opened in July 2002.

The building has an unusual bulbous shape, intended to reduce its surface area and thus improve energy efficiency. Its designers reportedly saw the building as a giant sphere hanging over the Thames, but opted for a more conventionally rooted building instead. It has no front or back on conventional terms but derives its shape from a modified sphere.

View a video of London City Hall on Google Maps

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Parking Spaces in Santa Monica

Google Maps have teamed up with Santa Monica's Information Systems Department to provide real-time data from the city's parking lots. This means that residents of Santa Monica can now use Google Maps to find a parking space.

The information is available from a Parking Information Mapplet that you can add to your Google Maps.

Google LatLong: Finding that free space

The Pillars of Creation

The Hubble image of the Pillars of Creation
We have added another amazing astronomy video to our Star Viewer map. The latest video is from NASA's Spitzer Hidden Universe series which is a series of videos from NASA highlighting the discoveries made by their Spitzer Telescope.

The Pillars of Creation is a visually stunning area of the Eagle Galaxy. The pillar structure of the region resembles that of another, much larger star formation region, imaged by Spitzer Space Telescope in 2005 in Cassiopeia, which is designated W5 and usually called "Mountains of Creation".

View the The Pillars of Creation in the Star Viewer

New Hubble Video Added to Star Viewer

NGC 1132
Since its launch last month the Star Viewer Map has quickly become the most popular of our maps. One of the main reasons of this is of course the wonderful imagery supplied by the Hubble Telescope and the wonderful videos from the European Space Agency.

We have today added another Hubblecast video to the map. The latest video is on galaxy NGC 1132. Galaxy NGC 1132 is most likely a "cosmic fossil" the aftermath of an enormous multi-galactic pile-up, where the carnage of collision after collision has built up a brilliant but fuzzy giant elliptical galaxy far outshining typical galaxies.

Go to the Star Viewer Map