Sunday, May 21, 2023

Explore the World in 3D

San Francisco as seen using Google's new Photorealstic 3D Tiles

At Google I/O this year the Google Maps team unveiled the release of Photorealistic 3D Tiles. Google Maps' Photorealistic 3D Tiles are a new way to view the world in 3D. In essence the new tiles allow map developers to use Google Earth's 3D buildings and terrain in their interactive maps. The new 3D tiles are ideal for creating immersive 3D map experiences, such as virtual tours, architectural visualizations, and city planning applications. 

To use Google Maps Photorealistic 3D Tiles, you will need to use a 3D Tiles renderer, such as CesiumJS or Once you have chosen a renderer, you can begin accessing photorealistic tiles simply by specifying the Photorealistic 3D tileset URL. 

If you want to use Google's new 3D map tiles then you should check out the Map Tile API Documentation. You will also probably want to peruse the CesiumJS documentation as well.

If you want to see Google's new Photorealistic 3D Tiles in action then you can explore Carto's story map How important is vegetation for cities.This mapped visualization uses the new 3D tiles and to examine the social, environmental and economic benefits of green spaces in urban environments. 

If you want to see your own city in 3D then you should explore Map Channel's Street Earth Map. Map Channel's Street Earth Map is a relatively old project that originally synchronized a Google Earth 3D map witht a 2D Google Maps view. The map has now been updated to work with the new Photorealistic 3D Tiles. Using the map you can explore any location in the world with three different but synchronized map views from Google: Street View, Google Maps, and the new Photorealistic 3D view.

The new Photorealistic 3D Map Tiles are currently available in over 2,500 cities in 49 countries. So if you are unlucky there is a chance that you won't be able to view your home town in 3D just yet.

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