By Chris Crum
Update 2: Google has announced the addition of more cities:
• Stockholm, Sweden
• Nuremberg, Germany
• Hiroshima, Japan
• Saitama, Japan
• Miami Beach, FL USA
• Orlando, FL USA
Update: Google has announced that eight new cities can now be modeled with Building Maker: Brussels, Rotterdam, Cologne, Dortmund, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Jose.
"We've also made some useful improvements to the product, including: the option of a Google Earth-view when you're choosing a location to model, the ability to save models as drafts before submitting them for review, and a new tool for tracing buildings," the company says.
Original Article: Google has launched a new tool for creating buildings for Google Earth, called Google Building Maker. The company thinks of this tool as a cross between Google Maps and a "gigantic bin of building blocks."
Users can use the tool to pick a building and construct a model of it using aerial photos and simple 3D shapes, provided by Google. Google will then take your model and add it to the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth if they think it looks right and there isn't already a better one for the same building. Google says you can make a whole building in just a few minutes.
Currently, users can choose to make buildings in one of nearly 50 cities. "We'll keep adding more cities, but don't feel left out if we don't have your hometown yet — modeling in a place you've never been is a fantastic way to discover more about it," says Google. "Teachers might find that Building Maker is a great way to get students interested in geography. Armchair tourists can not only visit an unfamiliar city; they can engage with it. It's amazing what you learn when you look at something really closely."
Google Building Maker runs completely in the web browser, and is supported by Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc. Users have to sign in to a Google account to use it. It's available in 14 languages.
Models reside in the Google 3D Warehouse. Users can use Google SketchUp to edit or modify anything they make with Building Maker. Google says to make sure you have the latest version of Google Earth installed on your computer, and that if you're using a Mac, you'll need to download the Google Earth plug-in directly.
About the author:
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003.