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Microsoft have just updated Bing Maps, which now includes 215TB of high-resolution imagery covering most of the United States, as well as key locations within Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Tokyo. These new pictures, named Bird's Eye, were captured at a 45-degree angle to provide increased detail of buildings and landmarks.
Over on the Bing Maps blog, they point out that the new photos in the update cover over 230,000 square kilometers, and are made up from more than 1.1 million files. Bing Maps now covers a total of 1,388,593 square kilometers, which is good for 302TB of data. Bird's Eye maps use three different kinds of data. The first is native Bird's Eye scenes using photos captured at 45-degree angles. There's also Bird's Eye Oblique Mosaics, which are a group of aerial photos that have been stitched together.
The final type of data uses top-down photography that is projected onto a digital terrain or landscape, again, at a 45-degree angle. This is used to showcase topological depth perception when traditional aerial photography just isn't feasible.
Google have announced that their Street View team have been snapping a tonne of 360-degree imagery of notable locations in Antarctica, with some of this work being posted to the World Wonders Project website. Featured destinations include the South Pole Telescope, Shackleton's hut, Scott's hut, Cape Royds Adelie Penguin Rookery and the Ceremonial South Pole.
Google had already posted static photography imagery that was taken from Antarctica to Google Maps, back in 2010. But, these new photos combine high-resolution, panoramic imagery with the same camera panning, rotation and zooming features that people expect, and use from Google's Street View service. Google worked with the University of Minnesota's Polar Geospatial Center and the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust to bring these pictures to our screens.
The search giant claims that its altruistic goal is to provide scientists and students with the most accurate high-resolution data available for historic and notable locations in Antarctica. In order to snap these amazing shots, Google used portable cameras with fish-eye lenses, which is the type of equipment usually used for capturing virtual tours for real-estate agencies, and others. Usually Google would use trikes or vehicles mounted with 3D imaging systems.
All around the world, GPS is used by consumers, businesses, and everyone in between. Its used from simple a-to-b navigation from your phone, or car, and for industries like aviation, shipping, and many, many more.
The EU commission has estimated that from these various industries, that over £640 billion of the EU economy is reliant on GPS technology. Knowing this has created financial incentives and funding for alternative GPS technologies, which would be utilised in the event of natural causes such as a solar flare, or man-made causes such as a EMP bomb, war, or similar.
This is where UK defence firm, BAE Systems, has a possible solution: Navsop (Navigation Via Signals of Opportunity). Navsop relies on wireless signals from large comms networks, such as TV, mobile and radio antennas, which then determine locations based on direction and signal strength, with some of the frequencies capable of penetrating walls for indoor use.
Google Maps with traffic conditions is a great idea, especially if you're trying to get from A to B during rush-hour. But, the feature hasn't been made available across the world. Today, the team at Google Maps have made it available in 7 more counties: Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Mexico, Peru, Romania and South Africa.
The Maps team have also improved the traffic conditions feature, as well as added more roads in 19 counties and regions: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the UK. The Maps team has said:
For our new users, you can check traffic conditions by visiting maps.google.com and clicking on the traffic layer in the widget on the upper right-hand side of the map. This useful traffic information is also available on Google Maps for Mobile devices and Google Maps Navigation.
If the roads you are traveling do not yet show traffic information, don't despair. You can help your fellow drivers and improve traffic data by using Google Navigation or Google Maps for Mobile while traveling.
We hope the traffic feature in Google Maps will help more users around the globe to save time and patience by planning their trips accordingly.
Google are poised to launch their Street View service in Israel on April 22, where they've collected insane amounts of images from a number of major citiies, including the country's famous Dead Sea. The launch event is said to take place this Sunday, with a number of government officials set to join in on the unveiling, according to a report from Globes.
Authorities gave the green light to proceed with capturing images of the country on camera eight months ago, with the launch finally happening, this is a quick turn around of events. Street View Israel will include images of the streets of Jerusalem, Tal Aviv, Haifa, and other locations in the country including the Dead Sea, Kinneret (Israel's largest fresh water lake), and historic cities Nazareth and Mitzpe Ramon.
Negotiations with Israeli authorities took three months to conclude, with Israeli newspaper Haaretz reporting that authorities wanted guarantees that Google had an efficient and reliable way for residents to blur out personal information, including number plates and homes before the images for Street View were published online. On top of this, Google are required to manage any litigation resulting from the Street View servie in Israel, rather than in the US.
Google started a local presence within Thailand back in September, but have only just launched their Street View service over the weekend, with street level images now available in and around several Thai cities.
Google only days ago unleashed their virtual tour of the Amazon, but now Google users can check out the street level views of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the island of Phuket. Google's service is set to bust out of those boundaries, though, where it will include six more Thai cities, as well as Thailand's World Heritage cities.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is also inviting people to nominate places or landmarks to appear in Google Street View. Thai tourist authorities are hoping to increase tourism with the new service, where they want to try and emulate the increased tourism that Pompeii, Italy experienced after rolling out Google Street View.
Microsoft have issued a patent, which is actually quite interesting. It's dubbed "pedestrian route production", which is known to us simple folk as walking directions, and it will automatically adjust the route for the unique conditions encountered by a person going from place to place on foot.
One of its unique features would help pedestrians navigate around, and not through, "unsafe neighborhoods", with the system taking into account violent crime data. The patent states that the system could "construct a direction set that allows the user to take paths that take him to his home in a quickest amount of time while keeping the user relatively safe (e.g., taking the user through neighborhoods with violent crime statistics below a certain threshold)."
The system would also be capable of taking into account user tolerance for unsafe neighborhoods based on past behavior, such as whether the person has "historically cared about safe neighborhoods."
China have been hard at work developing its own world-wide positioning system, where it hops to distance itself from foreign dependence and providing an alternative to the popular GPS. China have just announced that this month's satellite marks the first time their positioning network has started offering navigational data.
China have named their GPS-alternative "Beidou", which is a Chinese word which represents the constellation to English-speakers Westerners as the "Big Dipper" or the "Plough". Beidou currently sports 10 satellites but covers "only" most of continental Asia. Right now, the network is obviously less accurate than GPS, but they plan to close that gap with additional satellites.
There are plans from China to extend Beidou's orbital network to a total of 35 satellites by 2020. This will give Beidou the power of global coverage with GPS-like precision. Six of those satellites will be launched next year alone.
Police in Canberra suggest that their new point-to-point speed cameras be lined to unmanned aerial surveillance drones and used to track vehicles of interest to authorities. The first of the cameras will sport automated number plate recognition technology to calculate a car's average speed and whether it is within the legal limit, are due to hit the skies by the end of the year. Of course, with unmanned drones flying through the skies, they can be used for other tasks not linked to tracking cars.
Minutes from a Government point-to-point steering committee meeting held in June 2010 show that police recommended a broader range of uses for the cameras. According to the minutes which were obtained by the Opposition under the Freedom of Information Act, a senior police officer said the cameras could be used for other purposes. The minutes stated:
He noted that the use of P2P ANPR cameras to detect unregistered, stolen and other vehicles of interest would provide ongoing and longer term benefits for the project. a specific benefit would derive if the P2P cameras were linked to UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] which could track vehicles of interest.
Google have just announced the Google Maps Navigation (Beta) which now has the ability to automatically route you around traffic. With more than 35 million miles driven by Navigation users every day - this should save quite a few people, quite a lot of time.
There's nothing extra a Navigation user has to do, just enter in your destination and instead of Navigation automatically choosing the route that was fastest (without taking current traffic conditions into account), Navigation will now use Google's routing algorithms to current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates.