Friday, 13 February 2009

Underwater - Google Earth Beta 5.0

Google released this month a new 5.0 Beta version of Google Earth. The main new feature is the water. So far the oceans were just blue surfaced with little detail. In Google Earth 5.0 the oceans have become part of the (virtual) world and user can explore the “all new” underwater world.

This is a great feature and I imagine the beauty of the detail if someone starts implementing the rising water level. Not only on the level of climate change and catastrophes, but more on the level of the daily cycle of the tide. This was kind of the trigger for my research topic in the first place. The project of the floating city in the Thames Estuary, were the ever changing sea level was a research field and had a great impact on the project. To capture this rhythm in Google Earth would be great.

There is also a new time line, redesigned and a lot bigger. On the PowerBook screen it takes quite a lot of room that is annoying. But I’ll see how it improves the handling, as I will use it in the next few days. The new timeline makes also a series of older aerial photographs accessible. It is now possible to follow the change of a place over time using a series of older imagery.

Recording is now a feature of the free Google Earth version. So far only users who bought a license of the popular visualisation tool
had the option to record their trips on the (virtual) planet. Now everyone can record and share recorded trips including sound - live comments. The focus is on recorded TRIPS, it really is only a record of the navigation done within Google Earth and not a real movie. It is not possible to exchange these recordings other than as kml/kmz files and you need Google Earth to replay these files. You can exchange them though, but not as real movie clips like it is possible in the pied version of Google Earth.

One more new thing is the GPS direct import. Google has now discontinued the $20 version of Google Earth and implemented the GPS track importing function in the free version. It covers still the same functions as it did three years back, meaning only Garmin/Magelan and NMEA support.
I have not been able to get it to work though so far with my serial to USB connection to read directly from my Garmin Forerunner. I have been doing this back when I still had the paid version, but I remember it to be very difficult and each time a number of attempts to connect to the right port were needed. It would scan through all the available port one by one and the eventually hock to the right one. I am suspecting that Google decided not to support the serial connection any longer.

Image by urbanTick - Screen shot Google Earth GPS import window

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