The ultimate 3D world: Earth
Satellite imaging program lets you "fly" in 3D over any landscape and see anything larger than a kitchen table.
November 24, 1998
by Tom Spring
(IDG) -- Remember the old refrain "you've got the whole world in your hands"? A satellite imaging company promises to make that come true by putting the entire planet on your PC.
Space Imaging is marketing a new software product that gives you the ability to "fly" in 3D over everything from the Grand Canyon to your neighbor's backyard.
Using a combination of 2D imagery of the Earth and elevation data, the company's Carterra 3D generates 50 square miles of virtual landscapes you can "fly" over and inside. According to Jeff Liedtke, Carterra product manager, there is no place on the Earth that can't be rendered in 3D.
The company is hoping the new software will take off not only with existing clients -- city planners, civil engineers, and foreign nations -- but also with a budding consumer market. It aims to sell its 3D images to everyone from computer game developers to real estate agents wanting to give clients a unique perspective on land for sale.
But judging from the price, you might find it cheaper to book a flight over Chicago than to buy a virtual 3D image of the Windy City. Virtual real estate is pricey.
Virtual lots are sold in no less than 50 square mile parcels, and one black and white 50 square mile landscape sells for $400. If you want to see your plot in color, fork over an additional $200. Two-dimensional images almost sound like a bargain for about $200.
You get Satellite Imaging's proprietary 3D viewing software and a 6MB-to-20MB file of your plot of land. Images vary in quality, said Liedtke, but most 3D landscapes are of high enough quality to distinguish objects larger than 20 square feet.
The Carterra 3D program comes loaded on CD-ROM along with your virtual real estate. You'll need at least a Pentium MMX machine running Windows 95 or 98.
What you pay for is the image itself, and the 3D rendering process; the viewing software is free. Each additional 50 square feet of land costs the same as the first.
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