2011-04-23

Exploring Pyrmont using Google Earth / Maps Street View

The best way to explore a place virtually is likely to use Google Earth and Street View (note the recently released v6 has Street View seamlessly integrated). It would be great if I could get access to Liquid Galaxy -- panorama view using multiple large screens in circular arrangement and navigating using a 3D mouse -- but for now I'll have to settle using my small 24" screen and a normal mouse.

It's worth noting that navigating in Google Earth vs in Google Maps Street View has different pros and cons, such as:
  • It's easy to toggle between the various modes and perspectives in Earth and navigate easily and freely around. Also note mouse scrolling in Earth's Street View will move you physically forward/backwards while Maps will perform a less useful zoom in/out (you could use up/down arrows but it's not as nice).
  • Earth has a lot more data (layers) that can be very useful, such as Wikipedia and Panoramio integrations. 3D buildings are also great, but unfortunately its coverage is low in non-CBD areas.
  • Maps Street View has a better overview map (the small map on the bottom right) than Earth.
  • Maps Street View exposes 3D (activated by typing "qwerty") that works quite okay (though using an anaglyph glass means lost of color information).

Finally, I found that having both Google Earth open (at "aerial view") and navigating using Google Maps Street View at the same time is also a good way to navigate the street details while keeping global perspective. Toggling between the two applications is faster than moving in and out of Street View (which can also lose context).
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