updated 12:40 pm EDT, Tue April 17, 2012
Mapping service integrates user-generated images
Google Earth's aerial view has gotten a bit closer, as the search giant's mapping and exploration program now has a wealth of images captured by cameras based not on satellites and planes, but on kites and balloons. The new images come from the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, which developed an open source balloon mapping toolkit allowing any user with a suitable camera and the necessary balloon and kite kit to take and knit together aerial photos to create a georeferenced image suitable for use in Google Earth and other digital mapping applications.
Google has imported a number of the Public Laboratory's images into Google Earth's historical imagery database, allowing users to explore images taken by other participating users. To help users find the new balloon and kite imagery, Google has built an add-on (KML) that pinpoints the images on the globe. The user-generated imagery is just the latest addition to the popular mapping and exploration program, which last saw an update in January.