By Evan Ackerman
Google Earth lets you view the entire world. It’s sweet. But most of the time, you’re viewing the entire world as it was a year ago or more. If you’ve played with Google Earth, the first thing you probably did was go find your house. The second thing you probably did was go find your ex-girlfriend’s house and then get really disappointed when you couldn’t actually peek in the windows.
Now you can! (Maybe.)
A project called Live3D, brought to you by the Media and Machines lab of Washington University in St. Louis, takes live webcam images and overlays them on Google Earth. This is something that you could do before, but Live3D makes it fast and easy and integrates the images onto Google Earth’s 3D models. There’s a database of live webcam images, and it’s super easy to add your own via drag ‘n drop tools in Google Earth itself. So as long as there’s a webcam operating in the area, you get a constantly updating view of whatever the webcam sees (in stills, not video yet). Cars driving, people walking, everything, with a level of detail limited only by the resolution of the webcam.
Of course, this brings up all kinds of potential privacy issues, since you can set a webcam up wherever you want and have it pointed wherever you want and make the image accessible on Google Earth. People have always been able to do this, but somehow when it’s easy, it tends to become a problem.