Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Google Street View

The good news is that Google Street view has been launched in New Zealand. The bad news, for me at least, is that the street view for my town of Te Awamutu is just as bad as the satellite view. I've pretty much given up on getting a satellite view of my town in which I can actually see the town but I had high hopes for the street view. It was not to be, in fact the quality of the images is probably the worst I've ever seen on Google Street View. I've yet to look around the rest of the country but I sure hope it's better than the rubbish I've seen so far. What a disappointment.

Anyway, I'll look art incorporating street view at 3DNewZealand.com as soon as I can. I'm a bit tied up until after Christmas but I'll get on it ASAP.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Google Street View for New Zealand

The rumours appear to have been officially confirmed - Google Street View is coming to New Zealand. This isn't exactly surprising news - the Google car has been spotted around the country by people such as Bevan Rudge (see his great photos). The car is a black Holden Astra, registration plate EFR386.

How will this affect 3DNewZealand.com? Well the Street View is available for the API, which in plain language means we can add it to the website. This is great news and I'll try to implement it as soon as possible. Sadly it does mean that my own panorama project looks doomed for obsolescence - I'm not sure if there's a lot of point trying to fill a gap that will no longer exist. Shame really, I should have moved faster when the idea was new (I published my own version of "Street View" more than six years ago but lacked the resources to pursue it properly).

Anyway, let's just be happy that Street View is coming. I'll let you know when it's available at 3DNewZealand.com.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

QuickBird Satellite Images

Some of you will have seen a recent news story about New Zealand government agencies signing a deal to acquire satellite images from the US DigitalGlobe QuickBird satellite. While this is great for those agencies, I'm sorry to say it won't have any real impact on the satellite photos we provide at 3DNewZealand.com. Our images are all courtesy of Google Maps, and the QuickBird deal does not involve Google.

Of course there may be some side-effects down the track, for example, if people can get better images elsewhere then Google might feel some pressure to react. I hope so - the more competition in this area the better.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

3-D camera with 12,616 lenses

Stanford electronics researchers are developing a camera built around what they call a "multi-aperture image sensor." Pixels are reduced in size and grouped in arrays of 256 pixels. The fascinating thing is how image depth metadata can be stored with the image, allowing photo editors to select objects in the image based on their distance from the camera. Apparently this opens up lots of other new opportunities as well.

Full article at news-service.stanford.edu.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Satellite Images for Palmerston North

Last week I drove past Palmerston North and had a look at my old house, or at least where it used to be. Now it's a memory replaced by a new subdivision. To be honest it was quite a shock. With most of the old landmarks gone I couldn't even tell exactly where my house had been.

I wanted to see what had happened so I had a look at the Palmerston North map for clues. I knew the images wouldn't be completely current so I might be able to see an earlier stage of the subdivision development.

The first good news, which is really what I'm reporting here, is that the satellite images for Palmerston North have been updated since last time I checked and they are much better. I don't know when they were updated or how current they are - all I can say is that the images are definitely less than 5 years old but older than the newest part of the James Line subdivision. I had a quick look around the city and it was great. Lots of memories from my time living there. If anyone who still lives there can tell me how old the images are I'd be grateful.

As for my house, it's still there on the Google map - here's the link. The photo seems to have been taken just before the subdivision reached my house, so it's still very different to when I lived there in the middle of a paddock.

I'm rapt that I did this before the images update again. Now I have a permanent record of exactly where my house stood, so when Google's images do eventually update I'll always know exactly where the house was.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

3D Video

This afternoon Marc Dawson brought round some anaglyphic footage he shot in the South island last year. I'm trying it out to see how it will look on the web. I'm using the H.264 codec which looks promising, but the quality of the resulting footage isn't where we need it to be just yet.

Anaglyphic video for the web is quite challenging as the common compression codecs tend to kill the 3-D effect and introduce nasty artifacts. I'm hoping to keep experimenting with this throughout the year and see if I can nail a system that does the footage justice.

The new video page is taking shape here.

New Home Page for 3DNZ

A couple of days ago I overhauled the home page of 3dnewzealand.com. Previously the home page was where the main map was located, which was fine if that's what you came here for but a waste of time if you were looking for something else. I decided to give the maps & satellite images an area of their own and make the home page more of a portal like it should be. The home page map was an experiment that didn't work out, basically.

At the moment the site is pretty much divided into two areas: The maps/satellite images and the 3D photos. Very soon I'll be adding an experimental video section. After that I'll try and publish some more 360-degree panoramas and make them more accessible.