Thursday, January 08, 2015

Street View Gone Wild 2014


2014 saw some amazing applications built with Google Maps Street View imagery. Developers continue to stretch the limits of the Google Maps API. In particular the advance in the capabilities of WebGL has enabled developers to create some truly astonishing applications which turn Street View into a whole new way of looking at the world.

Here are some of my favorite Street View based applications from 2014.

Urban Jungle is a fantastic Google Map that allows you to view city streets in Street View enhanced with some virtual jungle greenery. Drop Pegman on the map and you can view Street View with creeping vines and grass superimposed on Google's panoramic imagery.

These enhanced Street Views are very impressive. The effect is possible because of undocumented depth data stored in Street View. Urban Jungle is able to use that data to create a depth map which can be used to plot geometry and sprites in the 3d space of the Street View panorama.


Do you want to see what your house will look like once global warming causes the inevitable rise in sea levels? Just type in your address into World Under Water and you can, thanks to the glory of Street View.

World Under Water is a very powerful campaign from Carbon Story which uses Google's panoramic imagery to give you a glimpse of your home under water. There are a number of Google Maps that can give you a map view of rising sea levels. However World Under Water has a far greater visual impact, simply because you can actually take a glimpse of your own home sinking under those rising waters.


Thanks to GSVPanoDepth and some awesome hacking by Callum Prentice you can now step into a 3d version of Street View made up of a point cloud representation of the Street View depth data.

Once immersed in the point cloud representation of Street Cloud you can spin around 360 degrees, look up and down and even view the original Google Maps Street View. After you've checked out the point cloud representation of your house (you know you're going to do it) why not type in '210 W 46th St, New York, United States' to view Times Square (pictured above).


Back in the day GTA4.net created a truly impressive Street View map of Liberty City (unfortunately that map no longer works). The map allowed you to explore the whole of Liberty City, from Grand Theft Auto IV, using custom Street Views created from the game.

Last year Activision took that concept to a whole new level. To promote the release of the computer game Destiny Activision created a Street View tour of the Destiny game-world, which allows you to explore and preview the game with Google Maps.

Destiny Planet View allows you to explore Mars, Venus and the Moon in Street View. The Street Views appear to be taken from the real game-world used in the game. You can explore these worlds just as you can in Google Maps Street View by panning around in the custom Street Views and clicking on the arrows to move forward and back.


Last year Skoda used the popular Hyperlapse Street View animation tool to create a cool promotional website for the Rapid Spaceback.

The Rapid Spaceback website lets you view a number of animated journeys on Google Maps Street View. To spice up the action the site has added a number of filters that you can apply to the animated route, including a kaleidoscope or mirror view. You can also choose from a number of different soundtracks to accompany your drive.

The site includes a number of prepared routes from famous locations around the world. You can also create your own route by selecting a starting point and a destination on a Google Map.
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