Some interesting ideas are coming out of the Web 2.0 Expo Berlin which ends today. These include Photosynth from Windows Live Labs, an application which creates 3D images from photographs and will eventually enable users to do this themselves and to map them onto Window’s Virtual Earth. Scientific applications are already evident from the ‘Synth’ created from images of the Space Shuttle Endeavour as part of a collaboration with NASA.
Both virtual worlds released updates early this year: Google Earth 4 and World Wind 1.4 offer enhanced 3D imaging and extra tools including the ability to annotate Google Earth using built-in drawing tools and to set the angle of the sun in World Wind. Like Google Maps the virtual worlds are also keen to allow users to incorporate and map external data. World Wind 1.4 includes a ‘web map server (WMS)’ to include maps provided by external servers as ‘layers’ using xml. Google Earth continues to develop its kml format.
These overtures are being responded to as repositories of primary data make use of the range of ‘virtual’ earths to expand the range of visualisation tools available to users of their data sets. For example, the Global Diversity Information Facility provide data in the kml format.