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Today, Google has announced that it has added Japan's tallest mountain to its list of places you can visit using the company's Street View service. Yes, that's right, arm chair mountain climbers are now able to scale the heights of Fuji while never leaving the comfort of their air-conditioned office.
The addition of Mount Fuji to Google Street View comes shortly after the mountain was named an official World Heritage Site by UNESCO earlier this year. Officials expect record numbers of climbers to visit the mountain this year and Google agreed to help prepare those climbers by expanding its growing collection of panoramic imagery available in Street View.
Setsuo Murai, head of Geo Partnerships for Google Japan, wrote on the company's official blog:
The Street View collection covers the highly popular Yoshida trail that takes hikers up the mountain, the full walk around the crater at the top, and the quick zigzag descent. We hope these 14,000 panos of new imagery will give climbers a sense of the terrain to expect under their feet - especially all the night-time climbers who shuffle up in the dark to see the sunrise at the crack of dawn.
A team of Spanish researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid have developed new technology that is capable of increasing GPS enabled devices accuracy by as much as 90 percent. The new system could be installed in car and smartphone GPS circuits for very little cost, too.
The team's findings were posted on the UC3M website, which explains that the team has been able to improve GPS precision by combining readings from several different sensors. The advance in precision is achieved by combining GPS signal with accelerometers and gyroscopes to better reduce the margin of error in location awareness.
This new technology has the potential to reduce the margin of error from 50 meters in urban areas to as little as two meters. Rural accuracy would also improve from about 15 meters to around two meters as well.
We'll put this in the bin of 'how the hell did that happen', but a 67-year-old woman has driven for 900 miles over a two-day period thanks to a GPS error, as well as her total lack of attention. The kicker? Her destination was just 90 miles away.
Sabine Moreau had planned to pick up her friend at a train station in Brussels, with her first step of the trip leaving her home town of Hainaut, Erquelinnes, Belgium. The train station was 93 miles north of her home town, so the GPS gets flicked on and directs her... south, instead of north. She listened to the GPS and started her turn-by-turn navigation trip down to Zagreb, Croatia.
What should've been a couple of hours in the car turned into a multi-day trip including gas stops, sleeping on the side of the road for a couple of hours and even a minor car accident. This all happened while she was none the wiser, where she has said:
I was distracted, so I kept driving. I saw all kinds of traffic signs, first in French, then German and finally in Croatian, but I kept driving because I was distracted. Suddenly I appeared in Zagreb and I realized I wasn't in Belgium anymore.
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."