Google acquires keyhole service
November 21, 2004 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Use the free 7 day trial while it's available! This lil program lets you zoom in pretty darn close on just about any spot in the world. And it is FREAKING COOL. I don't have much better commentary than that, sorry. You can zoom around to your favorite locations, tilt the camera, show all road names, rotate views - and once you've got a bunch of stuff plugged in its really neat to just click between them and watch the flyby. I can't believe this isn't a double post, but couldn't find it on search. Have fun!
posted by glenwood (66 comments total)
This is seriously damn cool.

Thank you!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:40 PM on November 21, 2004

It gave me an "apologies, internal error" message upon launch.
posted by jonmc at 5:42 PM on November 21, 2004

At least it apologized.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:44 PM on November 21, 2004

True, it's nice to see good etiquette in shareware these days.
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on November 21, 2004

jonmc i'd recommend trying to make it work. it's seriously bad ass.
posted by glenwood at 5:48 PM on November 21, 2004

It is cool. I wish it wasn't so expensive though. ($29.95 for personal use, and $599 for corporate.) It's really mostly US-based, since my attempted zooming on Malaysia and Taiwan didn't work very well. It also requires one to know the address in English.
posted by christin at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2004

Actually, christin, Google cut the price in half when they bought the company about 1 month ago. I believe it used to be almost $70 for a years subscription. Too bad I live in the boondocks and get a really bad resolution (or maybe that's actually a comforting thing).
posted by genial at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2004

We have been using this at work (architecture firm) for a few months provides amazing context for presentations for clients. We incorporate the zoom function and tie it to 3D animations. Clients are literally floored.
posted by Benway at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2004

so far it's zoomed in on loading...and that's as far as I've gotten. I suppose I should upgrade to a 14.4k to get better download skillz
posted by Hands of Manos at 5:58 PM on November 21, 2004

Snow Crash.
posted by psp200 at 5:59 PM on November 21, 2004

It's nifty, sure, but I could swear that I've seen similar free sites that do pretty much the same thing, right?
posted by davidmsc at 6:01 PM on November 21, 2004

I think terraserver has similar photos but you can't beat the cool flyover stuff.
posted by sexymofo at 6:09 PM on November 21, 2004

Imagine what Google will do when it ties in this precise locational data for their local search and keyword targeting.

That's game, set, match. Lovely.
posted by Pinwheel at 6:11 PM on November 21, 2004

i think we should use this thread to make a scavenger hunt. i just found a taxi traffic jam in manhattan, now someone find me a rickshaw jam in new delhi. ok go.
posted by GleepGlop at 6:16 PM on November 21, 2004

geez, put some pants on GleepGlop, would ya?
posted by glenwood at 6:23 PM on November 21, 2004

I recommend using Keyhole to check out Cambridge, Mass -- one of the few spots to have 3" resolution imagery, which is about as good as it gets for non-military use. You can pick out people walking through the various university campuses.
posted by krunk at 6:23 PM on November 21, 2004

*GleepGlop doesnt get the reference*
posted by GleepGlop at 6:29 PM on November 21, 2004

NASA's World Wind software is very similar to Keyhole, and is free. It's not quite as slick as Keyhole is, however.
posted by neckro23 at 6:31 PM on November 21, 2004

*glenwood is using keyhole to look into gleepglop's home*
posted by glenwood at 6:31 PM on November 21, 2004

oh goodie another useless windows only app. i wish you ppl would flag these as "safe for windows only"
posted by MrLint at 6:31 PM on November 21, 2004

Very good hi res images of downtown Tokyo as well...except that whatever satellite data they're using is, at best, nearly three years old. I found the spot where my condo is supposed to be -- not by address since address info isn't available for Japan, but by finding an easily distinguishable section of town and following the train tracks back to my place -- and everything about the surroundings looks picture perfect, but instead of the building where I live, I see the building that was torn down sometime around March 2001. Disappointing. Anyone suppose the U.S. data is more current? I was hoping for real-timish stuff -- not a realistic hope, I guess.
posted by Bixby23 at 6:32 PM on November 21, 2004

ah, i get it :) ... :0 *GleepGlop's cheeks turn red*
posted by GleepGlop at 6:33 PM on November 21, 2004

mr lint i'm really sorry i made you click on a link. i know time is money.
posted by glenwood at 6:34 PM on November 21, 2004

let us link arms and 'just say no' to the internet community equivalents of ball taker-awayers
posted by GleepGlop at 6:38 PM on November 21, 2004

I took a quick flyover of Scotland, my native land, and found almost precisely nothing: no towns, no detail. Rather galling for a country of 5 million people; invent the modern world, and see the gratitude you get for it. Ingrates ...

Curiously, though the only place with real detail is the somewhat remote Mull of Kintyre. I guess this confirms two things: the legend of the secret air base at Machrihanish must be true, and that the authorities will go to any length to spy on Paul McCartney's purported dope patch.
posted by scruss at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2004

scruss, youre adorable... can i take you home? *crosses fingers hopingly*
posted by GleepGlop at 6:44 PM on November 21, 2004

Seriously though, this is way cool least for us USers.
posted by dougkess at 6:49 PM on November 21, 2004

Unfortunately keyhole crashes very quickly on my laptop -- within 5 minutes or so of starting up -- and its process has to be "cleaned up" manually from the task manager.

Oh well.
posted by clevershark at 6:52 PM on November 21, 2004

You can see the dates of when the imagery was taken if you click the first javascricpt link here that says "Not all cities are pictured in high resolution...".

For instance: IRAQ
Abu Ghurayb Nov 2002 0.7 Meter
Ar Ramadi Aug 2003 0.7 Meter
Baghdad (Entire city) 2002 2 Foot
Basra 2002 0.7 Meter
Fallujah Sep 2002 0.7 Meter
H3 Airfield 2002 0.7 Meter
Mosul 2002 0.7 Meter
Najaf June 17, 2004 2 Foot
Tikrit 2003 0.7 Meter
Umm Qasr 2003 0.7 Meter

So in other words...pretty old. I did see one update as late as May 2004 in the UK.
posted by rooftop secrets at 6:59 PM on November 21, 2004

*types in "Area 51"

this is too cool
posted by destro at 7:00 PM on November 21, 2004

Anyone suppose the U.S. data is more current?

Not really. Vast majority was taken between 2000-2002. Some older.
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:02 PM on November 21, 2004

GleepGlop: you've heard of my neighbourhood, and its name is fear.
posted by scruss at 7:27 PM on November 21, 2004

The pictures of Toronto were taken around spring - summer 2002 - I know because that's the year we put in the red cedar chips in the front yard (and boy don't they show up well in a satellite photo), and my truck is parked in front of the house. We moved out in late August that year.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:36 PM on November 21, 2004

It's cool. A little bit worrisome in some weird way, but cool all the same.

I live fairly close to the downtown core of Toronto, and there is this weird blurred-square right where I live. I'm not sure what to think of it.
posted by purephase at 7:38 PM on November 21, 2004

Pretty cool and a little creepy. My neighborhood (outside Pittsburgh) is in good enough resolution that I can see what cars were parked in front of my condo the day that this picture was taken.
posted by octothorpe at 7:45 PM on November 21, 2004

Really amazing. I can only hope it gets better as time goes buy, all I want to do is zoom in on neighborhoods in cities I've never heard of.

And, like Bixby23, I too have been trying to find where I lived in Tokyo, my campus, etc., but I have no idea where anything is. Now, if they showed the train station names, that would make it a lot easier.
posted by deafmute at 8:02 PM on November 21, 2004

This is a very neat little program, no doubt. Not really a perfect navigational tool street by street yet, but it might get there, who knows? If nothing else, it helps me visualize where all the people on the opposite side of the planet are speaking to me from.

Vaguely reminiscent of Celestia - think of it as a Keyhole for the visible universe.

It's also worth pointing out that if you're buying a keyhole subscription, you're paying for access of free maps presented in a neat way... and that Keyhole isn't running the satellites that snap your downtown area [most U.S. maps are USGS made, for example].
posted by phylum sinter at 8:03 PM on November 21, 2004

You can see the deck chairs next to the pool at the Bellagio. Way cool.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:04 PM on November 21, 2004

After it finished zooming, I thought "Now, fire the laser!!"

This rocks. A thousand times thanks!
posted by Busithoth at 8:32 PM on November 21, 2004

GleepGlop, I've put up a scavenger hunt for Manhattan at Axes & Alleys. I think they might work pretty well in conjunction. One could even map out the accomplished goals. Unfortunately I can't test it as it's Windows only.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:43 PM on November 21, 2004

I love this. I've wasted a lot of time with it already, and will waste a lot more.

My gripe is that Canada is not very complete. Edmonton doesn't come up at all, and downtown Montreal is shrouded by clouds. I really wanted to see where I grew up.

I never realized that Targets have enormous bullseyes painted on their roofs.
posted by painquale at 10:27 PM on November 21, 2004

Well, I'm sure this would satisfy the peeper in me if I could actually see something. Dammit.
posted by codeofconduct at 10:27 PM on November 21, 2004

Wow. Wow wow wow. This is pretty damn cool.

Some of it isn't up to date--it shows my apartment complex as still under construction, and I had to give a cross street to get to the right area because, since the building was under construction, the address didn't exist properly yet. Still, way cool. Thanks, glenwood!
posted by Asparagirl at 11:12 PM on November 21, 2004

One of the few times I've wished I didn't have a Mac....
posted by jokeefe at 11:30 PM on November 21, 2004

If you have an Nvidia card, you can get the NV branded/sponsored version for $5 less, and the free trial is twice as long.
posted by danny the boy at 11:59 PM on November 21, 2004

Cool, yes. Frustrating, quite!

We can't get rid of that "Trial Mode" overlay that runs smack over the middle of the picture, just where we'd like to center our homes.

If we download some views from the Keyhole Forums, I find an immovable 'push pin' right over the item of interest. The Chapel at Sedona, AZ would be cool from the air, but the push pin totally obstructs the view. I guess I'll have to search for it myself.

Photo resolution leaves something to be desired. With 2-foot resolution, my house remains amazingly undefined. I've seen photos (I think from the NASA site) that had far better resolution.

On the very cool side is the "tilt" feature. It really got my kids excited.
posted by PlanoTX at 12:33 AM on November 22, 2004

I get an 'illegal operation' from both downloaded versions (regular and nv) when I try to start it.

Has anyone else managed to fix this problem? Can't find anything on their site.
posted by pandaharma at 2:07 AM on November 22, 2004

sodding windows only google hates the mac grump grump grump.
posted by bonaldi at 4:36 AM on November 22, 2004

I found some of the controls to be a bit on the chunky side. The scroll wheel seems backwards to what I'm used to when zooming (Sim City, the Sims 2), and it seems to zoom very slow and jittery. The tilt slider seems too fast. The road overlays seem universally out-of-register with the photos. I can't use more than one arrow key at a time to change my view. The F11 fullscreen mode is nice tho... overall it needs a lot of work, but I like the concept and would be willing to pay 30 bucks a year for it.
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 4:57 AM on November 22, 2004

Eh.. Kay.. I'm not the only one getting all exited about this toy and then let down by the windows only issue. It might be cool to, in the future, label wintel only software as such, maybe? I mean some software is for windows & mac, some for *nix/mac/windows.. Some only for mac. You know? A heads up would be nice. I'm jus' saying. Now don't get all mad at me. It's just a suggestion.

damn I wanna play with this toy. grrr.
posted by dabitch at 5:29 AM on November 22, 2004

sorry i didn't do platform research, i was just all giddy and hot to post it.
posted by glenwood at 5:48 AM on November 22, 2004

Just for reference, most of it does not appear to be taken from satellite imagery, but from aerial photography (planes or helicopters). You can tell how high or low the photographer was by how quickly the perspective changes from the center of any photo. My house is near the intersection of four relatively low aerial photos, meaning the perspective turns into this bizarre, Lovecraftian jumble of inhuman angles.
posted by Bugbread at 6:05 AM on November 22, 2004 [1 favorite]

Keyhole, shmeehole. The real action is in ArcGlobe.

Although you have to provide your own data..
posted by sandking at 6:47 AM on November 22, 2004

Yes, this is very cool... and psp200, I was instantly reminded of the "Earth" application from Snow Crash, too. Once again, technology imitates science fiction.

Here is a BBS where Keyhole users share some interesting things they've found, including some spiffy custom overlays.

The New York City maps are pretty great. I can see my apartment building's roof deck very clearly.
posted by enrevanche at 7:09 AM on November 22, 2004

Peeping through the Keyhole: A Glimpse into the Future

Coming soon -- from a surveillance camera in your neighborhood ... Keyhole[TM] SuperPro

As Google develops Keyhole, it will soon arrange for real-time access to the numerous satellite observation platforms. Add to this, Google's unprecedented access to live WebCams around the globe. The natural result is "Keyhole[TM] SuperPro AnyTime".

Imagine being able to see your neighborhood as it is THIS MINUTE. Then, thanks to Google's huge servers and caching technology, you can go view back in time as far as you want.

Here are some illustrative scenarios:

You get this in an e-mail:
"MAS| Middlesex County (Marlboro)| Traffic Advisory| | Rt. 495 IAO Simarano Dr.|MVA vehicle vs. deer, use caution in the area. | 06:44". Load the location. Set your time marker to 06:43. Watch the deer and the car come together.

Did you remember to close your garage door when you left for work this morning? Use SuperPro AnyTime to find out.

You were mugged yesterday at First and Main. With Keyhole[TM] SuperPro AnyTime, you can go back to the scene, zoom in real close, stop action at the appropriate moment, and print a picture of this thug in action. Smile when the judge sentences him to 15 years. Keyhole[TM] SuperPro AnyTime will be the best crime prevention technology developed in a generation.

Don't you wish? Well, we can dream!

That is, until the ACLU gets the bum's conviction overturned because Keyhole invaded his privacy without due process. Ah, well ..... some day!
posted by PlanoTX at 8:06 AM on November 22, 2004

There's always the good old ACME mapper.
posted by codger at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2004

PlanoTX, that was good.
posted by codeofconduct at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2004

Hmm. I see that a new version (2.0) was released recently. I downloaded 1.7.2 last Thursday. Those of you having technical troubles might want to try that version.... it doesn't have any watermarking during the trial either. Oh. Except I can't find it anywhere now...
posted by danny the boy at 10:07 AM on November 22, 2004

i like living somewhere where i can find my way home from space even!
posted by 31d1 at 10:09 AM on November 22, 2004

Alright, time to take up GleepGlop's suggestion. Scavenger Hunt time!

Post coordinates for the following items (they're all things that you will have to work to find, but city knowledge will help you know where to start looking):

1. A limousine
2. A helicopter
3. A sports game in progress
4. A traffic jam
5. A child playing in a playground
6. A felled tree
7. A pagoda
9. A skyscraper being constructed
10. Fire (of any sort)

Good luck!
posted by painquale at 10:29 AM on November 22, 2004

Looks like there was a protest or some large gathering @ Union Sq. in SF on the day they shot that footage.
posted by shoepal at 1:45 PM on November 22, 2004

One more "Windows Only" complaint. Doesn't do us Linux users any good either.
posted by jgaiser at 8:12 PM on November 22, 2004

Is it just me or do the White House and surrounding buildings look, um, airbrushed? And the Capitol pixelated?
posted by keswick at 10:10 PM on November 22, 2004

Thank you very much for this glenwood. I was walking around with a smile on my face all day yesterday, this is about the coolest thing I would ever expect my computer to do.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:11 PM on November 22, 2004

This is really NEAT! I can see MY CAR in the driveway where I used to live (I know it's mine, because it's green, the right shape, and because I lived there and worked from home April 24th, 2002, when the image was taken), and the barbeque grill in my Mom's backyard (1 .2 miles from where I used to live)! I can see my neighbor's boat, the very boat from which I have personally fished and gone waterskiing!

I sure wish they had newer images - it would be more fun if they did, to see how it is NOW at my Mom's house.

Also, where I live now in Germany, it cannot find an address and it just a big, blank green spot (even though lots of people live here! Honest!).
posted by erratic frog at 11:30 PM on November 22, 2004

Okay, I get the 'apologies, internal error' message too, and then it crashes.

Any suggestions on how to fix it? It sounds like a fun toy.
posted by jrochest at 3:26 PM on November 23, 2004

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