Multiuser Google Earth Mashup in Development
Murat Aktihanoglu, who I met at the recent metaverse meetup, sends words of a mashup he’s developing that will make Google Earth into a multi-user application with the help of Skype. Needless to say, this is the kind of thing that excites 3pointD, and is in fact something we’ve been looking for for some time. You can download an early version at the somewhat oddly named Unype site. Unype lives between my Skype and yours, and between Google Earth and Skype on both machines. Fire up Skype and GE, click to connect your instance of Unype to them, click to connect to a friend within Unype, and then have your friend click Unype’s “follow” button. Then, when you navigate in your Google Earth, Unype automatically navigates your friend’s Google Earth to the same place. That’s cool as far as it goes, but there’s more coming, Murat says.
Murat plans to add “presence” to Google Earth, so that users will have some kind of avatar on the platform. You’ll also be able to track your friends’ locations within GE. And none of this involves uploading placemarks or transfering any other information, just running Unype while you’re running GE.
Even in its early form, Unype could be a great tool for hanging out remotely in Google Earth, showing people your house or doing things like planning a trip. And because it uses Skype, there’s a chat interface easily available (though wouldn’t it be great to get that in the GE window).
As Murat puts it, “Google Earth and Skype are great applications. Unype uses their APIs to turn Google Earth into a social environment.” Murat says that the APIs, as well as KML functionality, have only recently become powerful enough to allow something like Unype. A couple of things they do not yet support but which Murat is hoping for are things like tracking camera movements and changes to models between users.
Written in C++, Unype doesn’t seem to be an open-source project, but perhaps it will become one with enough interest. (I’m just guessing here.) There are of course questions about load once your friends list becomes very populated, as well as other challenges to be faced, I imagine. No matter, it’s very cool, and we look forward to seeing how it develops.