Stumbled across an announcement for a free trial offer of the earthviewer software (see third excerpt). Have not played with it yet, but it sounds like it is worth a whirl. Just imagine the NAV possibilities.
I usually save this space for things you absolutely have to buy, but this one is so cool and yet so quirky, I'm filing it under "try." The EarthViewer is the most amazing net-based software I have ever seen. It scans the globe and pinpoints where you live, or any address with real satellite images.
Like Yahoo's Maps on steroids, EarthViewer 3D enables the entering of an address, which will then be displayed for you. However, the program uses actual satellite images to make up its map grid, so it looks more like a plane flyover rather than a Rand McNally road map. Once over the location, the pseudo-3-D graphics can be zoomed in or out, rotated and bookmarked for later one-click access. Clicking on another location or typing in another address brings a dramatic zoom out and fly over to that location. If high-resolution satellite images are available, they're streamed in from Keyhole's servers and drawn in well enough that you can see cars in a parking lot.
A trial version is also available on EarthViewer's Web site (http://www.earthviewer.com
). Those who fill out a form on the site will receive by e-mail a password that will expire after two weeks.
Using the program requires a Windows-based PC with a broadband connection. Viewers start with an image of a globe, which can be spun with the mouse. Selecting a point and diving in, a user will begin to see mountain ranges, deserts and lakes, then cities and buildings, then backyard swimming pools and cars. EarthViewer 3D renders aerial photos as fine as 6 square inches per pixel, allowing viewers to see clearly, for instance, two elephants in a yard at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
To gear up for the consumer market, Keyhole has been adding to an EarthViewer feature that includes additional levels of data. The feature, which can be turned on or off, labels street names and lets users see icons over schools, churches, hotels, grocery stores, Mexican restaurants -- whatever the user chooses to highlight. Clicking on an icon provides the name, address, phone number and Web link of that establishment.
Keyhole will soon add layers that will let users read restaurant reviews and book hotels, Hanke said, and is working to add a layer that will let people switch from still photos to existing traffic cameras and Webcams, bringing live action to the close-up views.