Google Maps Now Lets You Explore The Grand Canyon

Google Maps brings Street View to the Grand CanyonHave you always dreamed of hiking the Grand Canyon but just can’t get past all of the walking that would entail? Then you’ll be pleased to learn that the latest update to Google Maps brings Street View technology to the national park, allowing us to take a virtual tour of its trails without ever leaving home.

Back in October we told you how Google planned to capture images from the trail by using their new high-tech Trekker camera system. The device is worn like a backpack and automatically snaps photos while some lucky Google employee wanders the landscape. Yesterday, the company announced that it has now incorporated the images and data that were collected on that October excursion, bringing more than 75 miles of Grand Canyon trails directly to your browser.

Amongst the more well known routes that are now included on Google Maps are both Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail, both of which provide superb views in their real and virtual states. You can even explore nearby Meteor Crater or wander along the banks of the Colorado River, the force responsible for carving the Canyon over many millions of years.

Now we at Gadling would never advocate using Street View as a substitute for actually visiting any destination, let alone one as amazing as the Grand Canyon. But we do think that this makes an excellent tool for someone who wants to explore the site before they go so they have an idea of what to expect when they get there. It also serves as a great reminder of just how amazing travel can be on those days when you are stuck at your desk for hours on end. The next time that happens, just open your browser, hop over to Google Maps and spend a little time hiking the Canyon. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it sure beats the work you’ll be avoiding.

[Photo Credit: Google]

Teaching Geography With Google Maps

Google Maps
Travelers aren’t born, they’re raised.

Last week we talked about how to connect with your kids while you’re away traveling. There are plenty of ways to get them interested in this great big world of ours while you’re both at home too. One of the best and easiest ways to fire their imagination is with Google Maps.

Like many good ideas in our family, my seven-year-old son thought of it first. He’s recently gotten into Internet Radio, especially Tonik Radio out of Dublin. Tonik and most other stations show a Google map with pointers to where their listeners are. I find it kind of freaky that our house is clearly indicated on a map for all the other listeners to see. The kid just thinks it’s cool. He’s of a generation that has always known the Information Age and thus has a whole different attitude towards privacy.

So as he listens to House and Trance he surfs the globe, looking up where the other Tonik Radio listeners are–the cluster of fans in Dublin, the farmer in Israel, and the guy in the apartment block in Sterlitimak, Russia. Zooming in with the power of satellite photography, he can see what far-off countries look like from above. In some places he can even use Google Street View.

Once he gets bored hunting down his fellow radio fans, he starts exploring the Terra Incognita of the spaces between the points. This week he conducted a close-up survey across the Pacific and happened upon the Johnston Atoll, a lonely little former U.S. military base that I had never heard of.

I also show him places where I’ve been. He got an aerial view of the amusement park in Baghdad where I ate mazgouf. When the satellite took its photo, a small plane was flying over the riverside park and left its shadow on the water of the Tigris. A week later I came into my office and he’d found it again. He’s learning to navigate.

I can even show him my past, hovering with him above the Danish farm where I was an exchange student back in my teens. I brought him up the country lane to the nearest highway and its bus stop, the same route I rode with my bike when I wanted to go to Slagelse, the nearest town. The hedge and ditch where I hid my bike before I caught the bus are still there.

Strangely, this obsession with the computer hasn’t killed his interest in regular maps or his light-up globe. So if you have a young kid who’s curious about the world, try surfing Google Maps. It’s more than a bit Orwellian, but it’s a lot of fun.

Image courtesy Google Maps, copyright 2011.

TourWrist Brings New Views Of Old Places

tourwrist

TourWrist has one of the world’s largest collections of geo-located virtual tours, acquired from consumers and panoramic photographers. Different than two-dimensional photos and static-shot video, TourWrist real world panoramic images can greatly enhance travel-planning efforts by offering a different, more detailed view of places we might visit.

A free service, TourWrist delivers a 360-degree view of places we might travel with over 30,000 panoramic images. Using the TourWrist smartphone app to view, shoot, publish and share panoramas is easy too. TourWrist comes loaded with panoramic photography tools, back-end infrastructure and tour viewers.

“If you’ve ever played with Google Earth, you zoom in and get this sensation of being able to go anywhere – but eventually you stop going back because it doesn’t let you do anything,” explained on CoDesign. Tour Wrist CEO Charles Armstrong. “Our goal is to give you the opportunity to actually explore these places.”

tourwrist

Visiting the TourWrist website, we can choose to see the best/everything in categories such as hotels and resorts; arts and entertainment; dining and more. A panorama of a luxury yacht caught our attention and provides a good example of just what TourWrist is capable of. Clicking our way around the yacht took us from one panorama to another, giving about as complete of a tour as possible without really being there.

In that yacht tour, we were able to view in different directions and move forward and backward into the scene, much like Google Street View, something we would not have been able to do not long ago. “Our interface is always in a constant state of improvement,” says Armstrong.



[Photos Credit: Flickr user drocpso]

The Grand Canyon Is Coming To Google Street View

Google Street View will soon add the Grand CanyonBy now we’ve all marveled at how Google Maps and its Street View option, allow us to easily explore the world around us. Not only is it possible to use the system to find a new restaurant down the street, but it also gives us the ability to visit places like the Amazon, Pompeii and the Great Barrier Reef without ever leaving home. Soon you’ll be able to add yet another natural wonder to that list, as the Internet search giant has announced that it will next turn its attention on the Grand Canyon.

Yesterday, Google announced that it was sending members of its mapping team, armed with its new Trekker camera system, into the canyon for the first time. They’ll explore the iconic and breathtaking landscape on foot, while the camera automatically captures high quality photos in 360-degree panoramas while they hike. Once the expedition is complete, the team will return home and upload their images, which will eventually be stitched together and displayed in Street View form online.

This week the maps team is concentrating on the stunning vistas of the South Rim as well as the popular Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail. If you happen to be in Grand Canyon National Park over the next few days and come across a group of hikers with oddly shaped backpacks, it’s probably just the Google gang going about their business. The rest of us will have to wait patiently for their photos to be added to the ever-growing Street View library.

On a side note, how cool would it be to get payed by Google to go backpacking for a few weeks? I’m sure this team is well outfitted for this adventure and it certainly beats spending long days in the office.

[Photo credit: Google]

Explore The Great Barrier Reef From Your Desk With Google Street View

great barrier reef While Google Street View usually sticks to helping you explore land, users can now navigate Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef, right from their desks. Just launched, Google makes use of an innovative underwater camera that can record 360-degree images of the marine park.

The project is part of the Catlin Seaview Survey, which was launched today at Monterey, California. For the next three years, scientists will collect visual information on the world’s reefs to be shared on Google Maps, allowing people all over the world to dive without leaving home.

In a story at news.com.au, project founder and director Richard Vevers explains, “99.95 per cent of people can’t scuba dive, it allows so many people to access the oceans for the very first time.”

While at the moment only three sections have been mapped, by December it is expected there will be 20. Additionally, diving robots will be used to examine never before seen areas 328 feet below the surface. Along with broadening scopes of the world, scientists hope to discover new species and track changes in the reef related to climate change.

Next year, the project will expand to map reefs in Hawaii and the Philippines.