Google’s 3D Building Maker

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This is another one of those apps that should have a giant warning sign on it when you go to get it: WARNING This app is extremely addicting. Clear your calendar!

It’s the latest experiment from Google.  Building Maker‘s idea is to create three dimensional buildings from Google Earth aerial/satellite photos, street views, and simple geometric shapes.  Sound simple?  Ya, right.  If you’ve ever played SimCity or a sim(ilar) game, you know that simple doesn’t mean boring.  After a couple of hours of building building (ha), you start to realize that you may have to reschedule some of those appointments today.

You can choose between any of 21 U.S. cities, 16 European ones, or 9 Japanese cities (others are coming soon), then choose a block and a building and start to work.  It’s a browser app, though Mac users will have to download a plugin and you need a Google account to save your work.

Once you’ve chosen your building to work with, you can view it from several angles and then choose shapes to begin matching that building.  Think of it as Legos without the bumpy connectors.  You repeat some steps for each axis, getting the angles just right until you’ve got the basic shape of the building down.  Then you start on details.

Lots of details like gables, windows, doorways, balconies, rooftops, and more.  Before you know it, an hour has gone by and you’ve got a more or less complete building rendered.  99,000 more to go!

Like I said, it’s easy to really lose some time playing with this.  But it’s not really all fun and games.

What Google is working on in using this game-like platform to eventually create virtual walk-throughs of major cities worldwide.  Once this way of building cities is perfected, it could become a platform for rendering cities virtually.  What it seems they’re doing is matching actual buildings (what you start with as your “model”) with their rendered bits combined with the photographic shots from satellite and street views to create 3D buildings.

Using that data, they could eventually have these buildings entirely virtually-built by the computer so that 3D walk-throughs would be possible on Google Maps or Earth.  That would be really cool.

Alright, enough writing.  I have an apartment complex in Budapest to build.


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