Google World Wonders Project Lets You Explore From Your Browser

Is the economy continuing to hinder your travel plans? Do you like the idea of visiting distant places but can’t handle being on an airplane for more than three hours? Never fear! The Google World Wonders Project is here to satisfy your wanderlust without ever leaving home.

Using its famous Street View technology, Google has managed to deliver some of the most impressive world heritage sites to Internet users directly through their browser. Street View, which has been used to explore cities across the globe for a number of years, employs a special camera system that captures images in a 360-degree, panoramic format. When those images are stitched together and displayed online they create a virtual space that offers viewers a chance to wander around some very iconic places. But unlike Street View, the World Wonders Project is even able to go inside some famous buildings.

The full list of places that are part of the project can be found on the World Wonders webpage where they are organized by both region and theme. Some of those places include the archaeological areas of Pompeii, the Palace of Versailles and the Hiroshima Peace Museum in Japan, just to name a few. You can even visit the Antarctic hut of explorer Robert Falcon Scott, who lost his life on a return journey from the South Pole in 1912.

In addition to the Street View virtual environment, each of the locations also includes a brief explanation of its historical or cultural significance, as well as additional photographs and videos of the site. That information is organized nicely and serves as a great introduction to the different places as well.

If you can’t travel at the moment, the Google World Wonders Project just might be your best alternative.

Nature Valley Trail View is ‘street view’ for national parks

Earlier this week, Nature Valley launched a fun new website that delivers a Google Street View-like experience for hiking trails in some of America’s most popular and iconic national parks. Dubbed Nature Valley Trail View, the new site allows hikers to explore over 300 miles of trail directly from their browser.

Much like its counter-part from Google, Trail View actually puts us on the ground and gives us a 360-degree view of the surroundings as we take a virtual hike through the wilderness. It also offers information about the trail that is currently being displayed, including: its length, level of difficulty and important points of interest along the way. This makes it a great tool for scouting potential hikes in the national parks before we go while also providing insights into what to expect when we’re actually out on the hike.

At the moment, Trail View features three of the more popular and famous national parks – Grand Canyon, Great Smokey Mountains, and Yellowstone. The video below gives us a glimpse at the technology that has gone into creating the new website, which is just the latest initiative from Nature Valley, a company that has a long history of supporting the national parks in a variety of important ways.

Enjoy the video then go take a virtual hike.

Photo of the Day (12-9-09)

This photo titled “Peace” by jrodmanjr, the fellow who took it, is a lovely depiction of an alley away from the hubbub of a city. As he noted, time away from the souks in Dubai, the city with the tallest building in the world, was well needed.

In the comment section, he also gives details about why he framed the shot the way that he did. If he had moved the camera to the right, “the bright clutter, crates, and trinkets ended up to be too much of a distraction. “

As it is, we become the witness to the life of a man who reads in quiet repose.

If you have captured a quiet moment of repose, or any other sort of moment, send it our way at Gadling’s Flickr photo pool, It might be chosen as a Photo of the Day

Stweet mashes up Twitter with Google Street View

It seems like we can’t get enough of Twitter lately. In fact, as the service continues to add new users, the number of applications that help you use it for travel only seems to grow. Recently we learned a quirky new tool called Stweet that links up the street level views found on Google Maps with the power of Twitter.

Although applications like Twittervision already show you a real time map of what and where people are tweeting, Stweet is slightly different. Instead of showing an anonymous map, Stweet pulls the approximate location of where a person submitted their message, attaching it to a street address and visualizing the location using Google’s nifty street view tool. The app can be customized to let you view specific cities like San Francisco or London.

How would someone use this for travel, you might be saying? One potential application might be mapping a city’s potential hangout spots. Guidebooks are great at telling you about good places to go six months ago…but they’re horrible keeping up with the day a visitor happens to be in town. Sure, that cafe in Paris sounded great in your Lonely Planet, but what about this August, when you’re actually around? Twitter is great at picking up trending topics and keywords – Stweet takes that idea to the next level. You can narrow down to specific cities and neighborhoods, seeing the areas that seem to be buzzing and the local topics that have people talking.

That said, an application like Stweet has the power to backfire horribly – the data isn’t necessarily reliable and you can’t necessarily confirm that a given tweeter shares your tastes. It also seems to be struggling with technical difficulties – as of the time of this writing the site seemed to be down. Still, as more and more phones share location data and mobile devices become more powerful, you can bet you’ll be seeing more of these types of services coming soon to a phone near you.

You can find Gadling on Twitter, as well as the most of the Gadling Team: Mike Barish, Kraig Becker, Catherine Bodry, Alison Brick, Justin Glow, Aaron Hotfelder, Tom Johansmeyer, Jeremy Kressmann, Heather Poole, Jamie Rhein, Annie Scott, Karen Walrond, Kent Wien, Brenda Yun.