January 6, 2011

Did Al Gore invent Google Earth?

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

OK, so we know Al Gore did not invent the internet, but did he invent Google Earth?

Vice President Al Gore gave a speech at The Fifth International Symposium on Digital Earth.  On January 31, 1998, the Vice President made the following remarks:

“I believe we need a “Digital Earth”. A multi-resolution, 3-D representation of the planet, into which we can embed vast quantities of geo-referenced data.”

“Imagine, for example, a young child going to a Digital Earth exhibit at a local museum. After donning a head-mounted display, she sees Earth as it appears from space. Using a data glove, she zooms in, using higher and higher levels of resolution, to see continents, then regions, countries, cities, and finally individual houses, trees, and other natural and man-made objects. Having found an area of the planet she is interested in exploring, she takes the equivalent of a “magic carpet ride” through a 3-D visualization of the terrain. Of course, terrain is only one of the many kinds of data with which she can interact. Using the systems’ voice recognition capabilities, she is able to request information on land cover, distribution of plant and animal species, real-time weather, roads, political boundaries, and population. She can also visualize the environmental information that she and other students all over the world have collected as part of the GLOBE project. This information can be seamlessly fused with the digital map or terrain data. She can get more information on many of the objects she sees by using her data glove to click on a hyperlink. To prepare for her family’s vacation to Yellowstone National Park, for example, she plans the perfect hike to the geysers, bison, and bighorn sheep that she has just read about. In fact, she can follow the trail visually from start to finish before she ever leaves the museum in her hometown.”

Sound familiar?  (OK, except the head-mounted display….)

Keep in mind Keyhole, Inc. (the software company that specialized on geospatial visualization) was founded in 2001.  Google acquired Keyhole, Inc., in 2004 and renamed their EarthViewer to Google Earth in 2005.

Things that make you go hmmmm…..

You can read the entire speech at:  http://www.isde5.org/al_gore_speech.htm