The big announcement are all "coming soon":
Rita Chen, Product Manager for Google Maps Mobile introduced “off-line mode” for maps. There’ll be no need for an Internet connection with Google Maps for Android. Basically you choose “make available offline” from Google Maps, to store the data locally. You do get an approximate size to help determine if you have space and or fast enough connection. If GPS is enabled, the Blue Dot still works and with a compass, you are oriented, too.
Luke Vincent, Engineering Director for StreetView, announced the new “trekker,” a backpack camera for StreetView data capture. It’s under 40 pounds and can be powered for a full day. It uses Android. The plan is to take it to National Parks, castles, ruins, Venice, etc.
Peter Birch, Product Manager Google Earth. announced advanced automated 3D model creation from imagery. He noted it’s not new, but it far better than what came before. It uses stereo photogrammetry from many well overlapping images. Then, the right color for each pixel is selected to create a 3D mesh. That of course must be packaged for smooth delivery. Google is contracting planes to collect the imagery. Drones are still under consideration. There's a new Google Earth user interface called the "Tour Guide" for better exploration. It basically flies you to, and around, points of interest selected from series of labeled images on the left hand edge.
The Introduction was a bit of history, with a few announcements about Map Maker and Google Earth Outreach:
Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps, basically ran through a history of mapping at Google - from acquiring Keyhole, to Google Maps, to the addition of imagery to StreetView and moving form licensed data to the creation of its own data. In fact, ten new Map Maker countries were announced today (Lat Long Blog). He highlighted three key goals for mapping (which will sound familiar): Comprehensiveness, Accuracy, Usability.
Rebecca Moore, Google Earth Outreach highlighted three projects:
- Using Google Earth and imagery, officials saved 4,000 people during Hurricane Katrina.
- The Surui people are documenting and saving their land in the Amazon.
- The HALO Trust an organization dedicated to eradicating land mines, just today launched its solution using Google Earth to track landmine removal ops, and marking where it's safe and still not safe. (Lat Long Blog)