The Future is 3-D for Google Maps

Last week as part of a keynote presentation for the TechWeb/O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 Expo in New York, Brian McClendon, Engineering Director for Google’s geospecial products gave attendees a sneak peak into the future of Google Maps. Armed with the power of HTML5 and OpenGL technology, Google Maps GL promises smoother and faster navigation and display of 3-D graphics, along with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom through satellite or streetview photos. Google Maps currently utilizes tiled real-life photos animated by Ajax Javascript technologies. Watch a video on Google Maps meets WebGL The main advantage of Google Maps GL is its use of WebGL: a software variant, implemented in current versions of Google Chrome and the latest beta version of Firefox, which enables direct access to graphics cards on home and business computers. For the end-user what this means is the eradication of required update upon update for various plug-ins in order to view 3-D graphics and other interactive web media content. As explained by McClendon: “While Google Maps GL shares all the familiar functions of Google Maps, we’ve completely replaced the engine that draws the maps.” Upon accessing the site, the end-user will be prompted with a test-run to ensure that their computer’s graphics card is capable of viewing the content. Though the future use of WebGL promises to contribute to the elimination of annoying required plug-in downloads and upgrades, it may also result in the purchasing of newer computers with more sophisticated graphics capabilities for many. There’s always a downside. Irrespective of this however, Google Maps GL surely is a new means for Google to showcase standards-based rich Web applications. The release date for this exciting new technology has not yet been announced. If you’re interested in learning more about how HTML5 and OpenGL technologies will impact the future of both personal and business website design and development, please don’t hesitate to contact Inspiratica.