Friday, July 25, 2014

Panoramic Earth Moves to HTML5

It has been a while coming, but Panoramic Earth is now moving to an HTML5 panorama viewing engine. Up to now the site has been using a Flash version of KRPano. While this has proved great for several years, Flash is not well supported by mobile devices, especially if made by Apple. As the number of mobile users has increased, so this anomaly has been a growing issue.

For a while it has been possible to render equirectangular spherical panoramic images in HTML5, but not cylindrical. This meant that only part of the content of the site could be viewed with the new viewer. However, things have now moved on meaning that over the next few days all the 10,500 plus panoramas will be converted to the new version.
The viewing engine still comes from KRPano, one of the most popular panorama viewers on the market. With it come some new functions as well. Practically speaking, viewers on computers will notice little difference, but for mobile devices this will transform their user experience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Google Maps Goes all 3D on London

Google Maps has given London a 3D makeover, allowing us to fly around the city like never before. Click on the Earth view of the map and, voilà, you are now flying through the virtual city as if in a computer game. All the buildings, bridges and landmarks within London are rendered and their perspectives change as you scroll around.

London is the latest UK city to receive the new makeover, others include Birmingham, Leeds, Reading and Stoke-on-Trent. So now you do not need to go to the top of the Shard to see what London looks like, simply pull it up on Google Maps and move around. What is more, weather will never get in your way. It is am impressive achievement, yet Google plans for more with the release of Project Tango and the desire to create a 3D map of the entire world, inside and out.

These 3D maps are an addition to the Street View panoramas (or photospheres as Google likes to call them). The later still provide the best images from street level, producing interactive virtual tours of cities, like this virtual tour of London. While amazing, the 3D rendering from Google maps looses detail at close zoom, detail which is clearly picked up in panoramas shot at street level like the one below.

© Peter Watts, originally written for Panoramic Earth.

New Panoramas on Panoramic Earth