Google (and Others) Are Watching You – But Only for the Betterment of Technology
When I used to get lost while driving, I'd call my Dad. And somewhere along the line in trying to figure out exactly where I was, he'd always ask "Well, which direction are you going?" The hell if I ever knew - I'm not a damn compass (By the way, I think my father isn't really the child of my grandmother and grandfather, but rather, he's the product of some secret government experiment in which a compass and a human were crossed to form a new species. What can I say, the man's good).
Anyway, I just picked myself up a fancy new toy; the iPhone 3Gs. That's right - I have a compass on deck at all times now - take that, Dad! But forget the compass for now; I'm about to one up my Pops right here.
Google Maps. My iPhone has a Google Maps App. I don't even need a compass, nor do I have to worry about which direction I'm going. It's all right there. Now, while Google Maps is nothing at all new, have you ever stopped to think about where Google gets all the information to put on the map? Neither did I, until a read an article on CNN about it.
It's interesting - companies such as Google, MapQuest, and a few others use a service called Tele Atlas to literally drive around and take pictures while also mapping out a given area. According to the CNN article, "Six cameras, two side-sweeping lasers and a GPS sit atop each bright orange Mobile Mapping Van" that drives around and takes the images for the base maps. Basically, the van drives around and it captures a 360 view of everything around the van, snapping 3 pictures every second. From these pictures and images, Google and other map providers are able to piece together their maps.
And CNN reports that while Tele Atlas doesn't have an application like Google Streets, (that's how they get those neat close-up pictures of your house that show you standing in the driveway), they are currently working on something bigger and better - a 3-D world. Tele Atlas' vans use the side-sweeping lasers that, according to CNN, are continuously "recording information that Tele Atlas calls the "first reflective surface." This includes the width, height and contours of every building the van passes." What the lasers catch combined with the images the cameras take will help Tele Atlas create its 3-D world.
Now I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty neat. So Tele Atlas, along with mapping out the world and helping Google form a basis for taking those creepy close up pictures of my house, is now working on its own 3D Maps. Forget my compass of a father - we're about to have the whole world at our fingertips, literally. If you didn't find this at all interesting, at least remember to keep your windows closed while getting changed. I don't want to see any X rated stuff as I look at my 3-D Tele Atlas world.