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Old 10-28-2009, 09:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Google Earth beware: the Brits are coming

Google Earth beware: the Brits are coming | Technology | The Guardian

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I intended to give the 3D internet a miss for a while after writing last week. But that was before Mike Fotoohi, a freelance software engineer from London, emailed me. When he told me that he and a few friends, working for five years in their spare time, had built a 3D version not just of capital cities, as others have, but of the entire planet that was better than Google Earth, my first reaction was to get off the phone pronto.
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They have mapped streets in central New York in detail and an avatar customised to look like me successfully wandered around the Times Square area (hhttp://bit.ly/timessq). Buildings further away become 3D shells as his team hasn't the resources to fill in details.

How can he get around this? Simple. Anyone, anywhere can build on the 3D foundations of any mapped house in the world. He wants it to be the Wikipedia of a 3D internet with a revenue stream to finance expansion which their own company, micazook.com, can't afford. When those who build houses get to a trusted level they can become moderators, just as happens with Wikipedia. He hopes to make money by having three levels of membership (homeless, visitors and residents) allowing anyone to buy and sell land, buildings, clothes etc or run clubs with his company getting a percentage. There could be a speculative land grab when it goes public. There is already a virtual casino and he demoed an engaging kids' game of sheep being rounded up into a pen.
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That there is a market is shown by Second Life, which will generate $500m this year from buying and selling virtual goods such as land and clothing. Eventually, they hope to let residents elect mayors to govern in a democratic fashion. Second Life cost tens of millions of dollars to build.

It is amazing that a few backroom guys in the UK even dare to challenge giants like Google by working in their spare time, using up less than 50,000 so far. They are very focused and have made very clever use of public resources. Their unique contribution is a software "engine" that takes raw data and converts it into a 3D space. There are no patents on it apparently it is hard to get them on physics engines but they claim a two- to three-year start over Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, from which they didn't even get a reply when they asked for help.
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Old 10-28-2009, 11:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's awesome. Another step in the inevitable merger of SL style virtual worlds and Google Earth style 3D mapping.
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Old 10-29-2009, 01:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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@ Victor (the Guardian article author): Dood, pics or it didn't happen :-)
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Old 10-29-2009, 02:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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@ Victor (the Guardian article author): Dood, pics or it didn't happen :-)

He posted a video on Youtube

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Old 10-29-2009, 02:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd love to get involved with something like this.
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Old 10-29-2009, 03:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It looks like their development team are in Wroclaw in Poland , though they have an office in Clerkenwell in London.
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Old 10-29-2009, 04:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This is a great idea, naturally...

So this is basically a mix between Google Earth (and the SketchUp community) and SL.

I think this is a very ambitious project, one I feel is definitely a plausible reality in the decades to come...but right now I find SL much more dynamic and beautiful.

The SL engine seems to be much more realized...at least it seems that way from the video I just watched. I'm guessing they want to allow authoring of content based on a trust system, like Wiki. If you prove to be a qualified modeler or texture artist, you will be given the ability to lay objects...which is absolutely essential to keeping the production value up.

Second Life is fantastic, but as we all know, the level of skill in design, modeling and texturing varies wildly...I wouldn't trust the majority of content creators to build a realistic digital counter-part of a city...

I love the idea though. Google may even look into buying them out at some point...which may not be a bad idea for them (Billions!!!) lol.
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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This is what Philip described at SLCC 2009, 8, 7, 6, and 5. I wonder if he's working on in his second retirement.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There are some pretty hot button words in the article like "casino" and "speculative land grab", "buy and sell".

Definitely interesting.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:40 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:37 AM   #11 (permalink)
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"an engaging kids' game of sheep being rounded up into a pen. "

So, they have age-players and furries covered.
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Wait for them to map London, then go to Soho.
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Old 11-12-2009, 01:15 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The scope of the project is staggering, but if anyine can build things, how do we know people won't just build silly, ugly, unrealistic things like some do in SL? The owners can't police the whole world!
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Old 11-12-2009, 03:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Wouldn't want anyone making unrealistic things in a virtual world now, would we?
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