Skip to main content

Altered Google Earth Tracks Cars, People

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have developed a method to import real-time information into applications such as Google Earth and other "aerial earth maps" (pdf). The revelation could be interpreted in two ways: fascinating in that viewers can zoom in and check out a local game of soccer, or super frightening in that such programs can track cars and even people. Heck, even clouds will no longer remain anonymous.

Popular Science reports that the researchers use live video feeds in order to discover the position and motion of various objects, sometimes incorporating various angles from multiple cameras. Combined with behavioral simulations, the video helps to create realistic, real-time animation, especially when viewing human figures or moving cars.

In a video demonstration, the Georgia Tech researchers zoomed down to the Atlanta freeways and showed actual traffic speeding along the tar plains. The video even zoomed down to a local game of soccer, and even sported multiple viewports provided by various video feeds. Viewers can even check out pedestrians walking along sidewalks. Granted the virtual versions of humans and cars don't sport HD detail, the overall point of loud and clear: this technology can track anyone, anywhere.

"We have presented a novel prototype system to augment dynamic virtual cities based on real-world observations," the researchers said in their paper. "We hope that our approach opens doors for interesting forms of new augmented virtual realism."