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Google Adds Satellite Imagery to Maps

CmdrTaco posted about 9 years ago | from the i-can't-see-my-house-from-here dept.

Google 661

Ant writes "BetaNews reports that Google quietly updated its maps service late Monday to include satellite imagery, a first in the industry... Much of Google Maps remains the same - just with detailed pictures from high-tech satellites instead of standard map graphics. Maps can be dragged to view adjacent areas, which means users do not have click and wait for graphics to reload. Zooming is also instantaneous with the help of a slider placed atop the map." The resolution doesn't seem very high, but the integration is very seamless.

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Erm (2, Insightful)

unique alias (862076) | about 9 years ago | (#12142818)

This isn't an industry first, unless perhaps it's real-time.

Re:Erm (4, Insightful)

MynockGuano (164259) | about 9 years ago | (#12142844)

I think they mean that it's the first time a true mapping/routefinding service (MapQuest, et al) has satellite imagery integrated.

Re:Erm (5, Interesting)

ishepherd (709545) | about 9 years ago | (#12142889)

Not really - try mousing over this [multimap.com] map (hope the link works).

Re:Erm (1)

MynockGuano (164259) | about 9 years ago | (#12142907)

Alright, then...the first time a mapping/routefinding service which has US maps has had satellite imagery integrated.


Re:Erm (5, Informative)

markov_chain (202465) | about 9 years ago | (#12143003)

Actually Mapquest used to have aerial photos. I'm not sure why they got rid of it.

Go ahead, split hairs about aerial vs. satellite... :)

Re:Erm (3, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | about 9 years ago | (#12143025)

Mapquest used to have aerial photos. I'm not sure why they got rid of it.

My first guess would be hysterical paranoia about "national security".

Re:Erm (1, Informative)

DeadSea (69598) | about 9 years ago | (#12142853)

I think taco was referring to first mapping site to also offer satelite photos. I haven't seen satelite photos on sites such as mapquest or yahoo maps.

Satelite photos have been available on the internet for some time, but this certainly makes them much more convenient.

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Re:Erm (3, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | about 9 years ago | (#12142884)

multimap.com has had satellite images linked into their maps of the UK for years now. Of course, it's UK only (maybe other European countries by now), so doesn't count on Slashdot, unlike Google's US only service.

Re:Erm (1)

DavidLeblond (267211) | about 9 years ago | (#12142890)

Thats not true, I remember some Map website USE to have satelite photos... I can't remember if it was Mapquest or not. But they had a button that came up that said "Aerial View" on locations they had satelite data for.

So yeah... Google wasn't the first to offer it. I'll try and find out what website it was.

Mapquest had this ages ago (5, Informative)

cryogenix (811497) | about 9 years ago | (#12142984)

Mapquest had arial photos for a long time that zoomed in farther than what google offers. I haven't seen them on their site in a while however.

Re:Erm (3, Interesting)

TangoCharlie (113383) | about 9 years ago | (#12142911)

Indeed you're right. Multimap [multimap.com] has had aerial photos for a while... For example, this [multimap.com] is where I live! The Aerial photos are actually provided by Getmapping.com [getmapping.com]. The aerial photos aren't available for all locations, but certianly most of the UK is covered.


Re:Erm (0, Redundant)

ToddML (590924) | about 9 years ago | (#12142978)

Mapquest had satellite imagery years ago, but they removed it about a year ago. So its definitely not an industry first. I even remember the old microsoft terraserver having the option to use a classic map view to navigate before switching to satellite images based overhead views.

Re:Erm (4, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 9 years ago | (#12142985)

Try getting directions, then change to satellite view. Your route is still overlayed perfectly over the roads you need to take, even though the images are slightly different than the vector map.

This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. If it was possible to center the Google map based on lat/lon, just imagine how easy it would be to write a script that took input from your GPS and used it to scroll the map.

Sounds like good technology for lots of uses (4, Interesting)

DeadSea (69598) | about 9 years ago | (#12142820)

Googles map software is pretty nifty. It seems like something that wouldn't be to hard to whip up for any large image file.

I can imagine taking some very high resolution artwork and displaying it using this technology. I can zoom in to the max resolution or your can scroll around forever.

Anybody have any software that would take a large image file and apply a google-map-like interface to it? The software should be something as simple as:

  1. Resize the image to various resolutions
  2. Break the images into 200x200 pixel chunks at each resolution and save those chunks as individual image files
  3. Put a javascript interface on

If you are smart about your image naming conventions you shouldn't even need a powerful webserver. The whole thing could be served up via static files from a webserver with enough disk space and a big enough pipe.

I'd like to see this for things like:

  • Local maps such as for state parks
  • Scanned artwork such as paintings - Like the Gigapixel Tapestries [slashdot.org] covered the other day.
  • Circular panorama photos that could be scrolled only in one direction

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First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142823)

And it isn't visible from satellite.. Damn!

OMFG .... U FALE IT!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142827)

cracky chan is hawt!

Great fun with satellite imaginery (3, Interesting)

jokkebk (175614) | about 9 years ago | (#12142892)

Wow, even though I'm not american, the seamless scrolling makes the application superb way to waste time - zoom into a city, and just start scrolling along a road, and you never know where you are going to get!

Rather nice if you want to plan a trip, too, as you get an idea how things look like along the way! And if the resolution gets better in distant future, who will need to do the actual trip anyway?

If a service like this really becomes popular, it has vast potential - just zoom to where you are, and you can see all web sites in the area, plus visual hints on how to get there and how does the thing look like. Now if you only could link images taken from those places directly to maps..

Example (1)

JMUChrisF (188300) | about 9 years ago | (#12142826)

I can't seem to find an example on the maps site. Maybe if the article were available I could see one

Re:Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142973)

Errr... Hmmm... When you look at any map, did you see the little link that says "Maps" or "Satellite" in the top right corner?

Different dataset from Keyhole (4, Interesting)

willith (218835) | about 9 years ago | (#12142829)

Looks like, at least in parts, the imagery is from an older dataset than what's on the Keyhole service. I live in a large neighborhood that's been under construction for 3 years across the various sections, and there are more houses in the Keyhole dataset than on the Google Maps satellite images.

No idea how much older, but it can't be more than a year or so.

Re:Different dataset from Keyhole (5, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 9 years ago | (#12142860)

Looks like, at least in parts, the imagery is from an older dataset than what's on the Keyhole service. I live in a large neighborhood that's been under construction for 3 years across the various sections, and there are more houses in the Keyhole dataset than on the Google Maps satellite images.

We were already talking about this this morning on our local geocaching assocation forum. Two of us (St. Paul and Apple Valley, MN) show that the images are at least 4 years old or newer.

My house was built in 2001 and it shows it there. Google doesn't know my address and gives something nearby but I still can see the house :)

Re:Different dataset from Keyhole (2, Interesting)

jim_redwagon (845837) | about 9 years ago | (#12142971)

I'd say we can date it before Summer 2003 as my roof shows up with the old shingle color (replaced roof that year).

This reminds me of my 7th grade science teacher asking us to date an aerial map of our town. My house was there, but the pool wasn't, so I could estimate the age of the photo using the different years. But I digress.

Re:Different dataset from Keyhole (1)

cosmo7 (325616) | about 9 years ago | (#12142957)

The WTC site in NYC is still the muddy mess it was two and a half years ago, so I guess the images are a little old.

This would be a nice application for automated image processing, to match the different exposures at the image edges.

Re:Different dataset from Keyhole (5, Informative)

ecklesweb (713901) | about 9 years ago | (#12143013)

The photos of Memphis, TN, were taken in the first half of 2003. You can tell by the state of completion of the FedEx Forum [google.com].

Re:Different dataset from Keyhole (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | about 9 years ago | (#12143019)

i think the photos are at least 3 years behind current times. A park project on my old college campus that (IIRC) took place around spring 2002 shows up as the ugly mess it used to be. (ok, so the finished project is also ugly, but that's besides the point)

Comeon, 1 meter per pixel.... (5, Informative)

purduephotog (218304) | about 9 years ago | (#12142831)

... thats the standard for commercial imagery and, with CitiPix flyovers (non-space) it's down around 1/3 of that.

Frankly most of what's available is only good for mapping, and that isn't that good at best. Most of the images have been jpg'd to the point that an 8x8 block is destroying what little detail is available.

For example, 8x8 blocked JPG at 10 meters per pixel is a boatload of image data lost.

And yes, I work with Satellite imagery.

Re:Comeon, 1 meter per pixel.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12143020)

The gsd for the imagery is just peachy for spotting landmarks and to help visualize a neighborhood. Might be handy for scoping out potential rental apartments too.

CitiPix imagery isn't free for non-governmental commercial users, though their software does rock. Google is giving me access to this stuff for free, so they rule.

I do not see any change (0, Redundant)

sheepoo (814409) | about 9 years ago | (#12142833)

I do not see any change!!!!!!!!!!!. Its just the old google maps :-s

Re:I do not see any change (1)

lurch_mojoff (867210) | about 9 years ago | (#12142966)

I didn't see it right away either, but they've added a Satellite link (that is up and right).

Nifty effect with arguable practicality beyond the coolness factor, though. I find the "old" Google maps much better for finding your way around.

As usual, no europe :( (1)

munehiro (63206) | about 9 years ago | (#12142834)

The europe is covered only at low resolution. I hoped to see my house, with no luck. However, it's still a beta release. Great job, although quite scaring.

Check Multimap (1)

Nursie (632944) | about 9 years ago | (#12142983)

As has been said (and widely ignored by mods) above, if you're in the Uk then it's been possible using multimap.com for quite some time now. I'm not sure of their coverage of the rest of europe/world, but this is not new.

Re:As usual, no europe :( (1)

Andy Mitchell (780458) | about 9 years ago | (#12142989)

Would be nice if they added full data for europe, both in terms of zoomed map data and being able to search for place names. At the moment if you search for Cambridge you get the one Massachusetts rather than the original one in the UK.

However, considering how long it took google to introduce froogle to the UK after the US I wouldn't hold your breath :-)

Re:As usual, no europe :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12143004)

at my house ther is only a "we'r sorry, but we don't
have imagery at this zoom level for this region".
Funny tho. the street beside got a image.

i am glade Google intelligence service cant spy on
me yet :P

i live in Quebec, it is not europe only that miss


Wow (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about 9 years ago | (#12142835)

I've been playing with this this morning, and all i can say is wow. There is some cool code and tech behind that, to be sure.

First in the industry??? (4, Informative)

glesga_kiss (596639) | about 9 years ago | (#12142842)

Eh, no. Multimap [multimap.co.uk] had aerial imagery at least three years ago and they still do. Not satellite, but as far as the end-user is concerned, the effect is identical.

Re:First in the industry??? (5, Informative)

baker_tony (621742) | about 9 years ago | (#12142893)

> but as far as the end-user is concerned, the effect is identical.

No, you're wrong, the multimap is much more detailed and better looking than google's :-) (as well as being able to display the map at the same time as the image).

Bigger world (3, Informative)

wllf (627835) | about 9 years ago | (#12142845)

Very cool. And the world is more then just the USA in satellite view. Searching for anything outside the states does not work yet. But hey, it's a beta. Can't wait for more coverage.

Re:Bigger world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142993)

Satellite images are available for Ottawa, Canada.

First? (5, Informative)

oddrune (102921) | about 9 years ago | (#12142846)

Do you mean that Google is the first in the industry to have satellite images on a map-site?
Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten [aftenposten.no] have had this on their map-service for almost a year now. At any time in the map-search you can switch between a vector-based map and the satellite images. Very neat :)

Re:First? (2, Informative)

Crystalus (246502) | about 9 years ago | (#12143018)

Google is definitely not the first. Mapquest also had satellite imagery that you can swap in a few years back, but they seemed to have removed it.

Key West (-1, Flamebait)

uncl_bob (529354) | about 9 years ago | (#12142855)

..does seem to have very lousy resolution.
And before someone says it -- yes, you are gay.

What about MultiMap? Not really "new" (3, Informative)

lxt (724570) | about 9 years ago | (#12142856)

Here in the UK the online provider MultiMap lets you do the same thing, just with aerial photography rather than sattelite imagery (it obivously takes a lot less time to photo the UK with a plane than the US, so planes are more feasible).

How is this really "new" - in fact, MultiMap has an even cooler feature, which uses a Java applet to overlay the photos with the map, so the area your mouse is over gets a photo superimposed over it.

The only advantage Google has that I can see is a higher free resolution - if you want high res photos on Multimap, you have to pay.

Re:What about MultiMap? Not really "new" (1)

glesga_kiss (596639) | about 9 years ago | (#12142883)

The only advantage Google has that I can see is a higher free resolution - if you want high res photos on Multimap, you have to pay.

Nah, on Google I zoomed in on New York. It stopped when long island took up the whole screen, no further zooming was possible. So, you can't see to the street level it would seem, which you get on Multimap for free.

Re:What about MultiMap? Not really "new" (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 years ago | (#12142960)

Nah, on Google I zoomed in on New York.

Nah right back at you. When I zoomed in to my street address I could see one of my neighbors mowing his lawn and individual shrubs in my front lawn.

It is much higher res than the free access Multimap.

Oh Google! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142863)

You will be in my dreams tonight!

wow... (3, Funny)

jromz03 (686423) | about 9 years ago | (#12142865)

I see that the US is the only place on Earth...

Re:wow... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142965)

I see that the US is the only place on Earth...

There are countries other than the US?

Just kiddin', I couldn't help myself.

But when will the rest of the world be included (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 9 years ago | (#12142867)

If you try looking east from NY or west from LA you just get endless blue ocean. Hello... Hello... This is the rest of the world calling!

Re:But when will the rest of the world be included (5, Informative)

generic-man (33649) | about 9 years ago | (#12142915)

Dear rest of world,

Hi this is Google

Our software is in beta

Please do not criticize it until we say you can


Re:But when will the rest of the world be included (1)

ThosLives (686517) | about 9 years ago | (#12142938)

Did you ever think that maybe there are "security" issues with posting accurate street-map satellite images of countries on the 'net? This probably explains why the images are "several" years old, and why Google might not have had the ability to get non-US maps.

Not a first! Check out map.search.ch (1)

Malcolm Chan (15673) | about 9 years ago | (#12142868)

As was pointed out in the comments of the previous Slashdot article about Google Maps, the map service map.search.ch [search.ch] for Switzerland already has these features, including the satellite views!

My 3 y/o neighborhood does not even have streets. (2, Interesting)

chrispix (624431) | about 9 years ago | (#12142881)

Looking at the map, I went to see if my neighborhood was there. There are not even streets on the images. Just a big brown field. The streets were put in about 4 years ago!

scary (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | about 9 years ago | (#12142906)

"Looking at the map, I went to see if my neighborhood was there. There are not even streets on the images. Just a big brown field. The streets were put in about 4 years ago!"

You made the wrong selection in the year dropdown. That brown field is how your neighborhood will look in 2007.

Not an industry first by many years... (2, Interesting)

sonofagunn (659927) | about 9 years ago | (#12142891)

... Microsoft's terraserver has been doing this for many years. I'm guessing 5 or 6 years but I could be off by a couple.

Thats why google has been slow (1)

mikehilly (653401) | about 9 years ago | (#12142898)

I was wondering why google seemed to slow down in the past 30-60 min....

Good ol slashdot effect :-)

y0z (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142917)

hey peepz!!!!!!!!! im new 2 this tech stuff and my 1st tyme hear on slashdot.com wuzzup all????
how do u get an accont so i can post the news???? i got sum tight stories to share wit u all.
my name is jame so if any1 can hook me up wit an accont let me noe. nice 2 meet u all, holla back.

varying seasons (4, Funny)

coult (200316) | about 9 years ago | (#12142924)

It is somewhat disconcerting to be scrolling around the area where I grew up, and see one half of a lake in full summer splendor, with boats frolicing and surrounded by green hills...and the other half of the lake is frozen solid.

Re:varying seasons (1)

DeadSea (69598) | about 9 years ago | (#12142991)

You have a link to that? That sounds nifty. They have a " Link to this page" feature that will let you give us a url for it.

I can see my house!!! (1)

RootsLINUX (854452) | about 9 years ago | (#12142927)

Really, I found it! This is awesome, I can't wait to waste more time with this!

Re:I can see my house!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142950)

Not only can I see my house, I know that I was home when the photo was taken because I can see my car parked on the street in front of it.

Watermarks (1)

dmeranda (120061) | about 9 years ago | (#12142936)

Anybody else notice the watermarks over the imagery that reads "(C) 2005 Google". It's especially visible over light areas such as beaches. Of course it's their right, just interesting. And there is a fixed copyright in the lower right that reads "Imagery (c) 2005 DigitalGlobe, EarthSat", at least in some California areas.

Anyway, this is really nice. To be able to switch between traditional line-art mode and imagery. It's neat to do something like a text search on a hospital and then switch to image mode and see the + marking the hellicopter landing pad right under the marker flag.

Add Subway Directions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142942)

It would be nice if they include the subway and bus routs to the directions portion similar to HopStop.com [hopstop.com]

Photo Age (1)

Ebon Praetor (459548) | about 9 years ago | (#12142945)

Just out of curiosity, I put in the address of my university, just to see what it looked like from above. Interestingly, the photos seem between 3-5 years out of date. I know it's a free service (I'm certainly not complaining), but is the information going to be updated or has the US government cracked down on that sort of thing?

Or will Google next year on the birthday of the service unveil real time satellite imagery?

Re:Photo Age (1)

belg4mit (152620) | about 9 years ago | (#12143011)

These photos are usually the product of "private " ventures. In Massachusetts the state does it about once every ten years. Occasionally a city like Cambridge might do it every 4 or 5 (usually only in conjunction with and prodding from a local heavy-weight that needs the data, like MIT)

Not blocking? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12142952)

I thought most of the satellite image services now put a giant white block over certain places in the US. Maybe google will add that later. Not that anyone in the world DOESN'T know what the white house and pentagon look like, but here you go anyway...

White house:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1600+Pennsylvania+Av enue,washington,+dc&t=k [google.com]

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=2+South+Rotary+Road, Arlington,+VA&t=k [google.com]

Re:Not blocking? (3, Informative)

De (39631) | about 9 years ago | (#12143021)

The US Congress is blurred out. Scroll a bit from the White House over to it. Interesting what they choose to blur and not to blur ...

Noooo.... (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 9 years ago | (#12142961)

Mapquest USED to have a switch for photos, it went away some months ago.

http://mapper.acme.com/ [acme.com] has zip code and lat long resolved to topos and aerial photos.

Note that a lot of these are actually aerial photo surveys, not satellite images.

Driving Directions work as well! (1)

dazzla_2000 (204679) | about 9 years ago | (#12142962)

It's very cool to see the driving directions route on the satellite images as well.

Which reminds me, has anyone managed to print a google maps route map without loosing the route line on the map?

And still no scale. (5, Insightful)

Peldor (639336) | about 9 years ago | (#12142981)

Open letter to the head heads at Google:

Great googly-moogly. Stop with cheap low-res sat photos and try adding a scale to your maps. You know, one of the basic features of a map? The little hashed bar that gives me some idea how far it is from one point on the map to another. I realize it is not innovative or amazingly cool, but it kinda renders your maps useless otherwise.

Where are they hiding the rest of the planet? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 years ago | (#12142986)

I typed in "map of australia" and got an advert for a tattoo emporium and a location pin stuck into a map of the USA :(

different perspectives? (2, Interesting)

Thatto (258697) | about 9 years ago | (#12142990)

I shouldnt be surprised by this, but the images are stitched from different sat. passes. My home town of Dallas is compiled from at least two perspectives. Quite disorienting when two skyscrapers lean across each other. and shawdows point at different angles.

Crap! (1)

vjmurphy (190266) | about 9 years ago | (#12142992)

Using this, I see that my lawn is the worst looking in the whole neighborhood. If only I could use the satellite's laser weapons to destroy my neighbors' lawns, then I would rule the area! Bwahahaha!

Dear Google: Merge both map types (1)

BlueHands (142945) | about 9 years ago | (#12142995)

Somewhere online I saw a demo of printed maps that had three layers to them. Depending the angle you viewed the page at you saw the different layers to different degrees.

What I would love to see is a slider where you could have an overlay of the street map on top of the sat pics thereby giving the real world images a little more structure. It might need to only include the larger streets or some such but I certainly hope google is working on merging the to better then a simple toggle.

Either way, yay!

(am I suppose to make a comment about how google is either trying to take over the world or is the best company ever? I can never remember which it is...)
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