Fast Company

Google Amps Up 3-D Digital London to Delight Royal Wedding Watchers

Google London 3-D

This may be the first step toward the Matrix, wrapped in white ribbons for the Royal Wedding: Google's tricked-out its Google Earth version of London with super-real 3-D representations of buildings and parks along the procession route.

Google's mapping team notes it's "doing our part" to support the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th. Last week there was a new batch of high-res aerial imagery of London, to keep the photo-realistic overlay of the maps up to date, and now Google's saying its expanded its own 3-D representations of central London--including the entire royal procession route.

And when Google says "expanding" what it really means is going into almost freakish levels of detail in its 3-D models. The spokes of the Millennium Wheel are there, details on St. Stephen's tower (the home of Big Ben) are intricate, the Horse Guards Parade--where the official dress military procession will gather--even looks like it has a gravel courtyard. The famous Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall has red velvet drapes adorning it, Westminster Cathedral has detailed roof leading and flying buttresses...and so on. It's really quite astonishing. Check out the video demonstration:

As if to prove its slavish dedication to the task, Google even notes that it's improved models that're off the central procession route--including the British Museum (whose intricate geodesic glass roof must've given the graphics team a tough job) and the theater district near Shaftesbury Avenue. "What's more," it fizzes, "we've also turned St. James' Park, Green Park and Hyde Park into a 3-D lush green carpet" with the help of officials at the Royal Parks, and have planted over 12,000 virtual trees modeled on five species in them to make them more convincing."

Google's official press release is coy as to the point of this venture. It's not as if people will be relying on Google to see the actual wedding. We surmise that Google is hoping to get some good PR from what will be a global event. Perhaps it's hoping folks will, by the thousands upon thousands, use the new 3-D maps to help them work out from where best to view the real life procession? Or maybe the enhanced London data will find use for tourist and the multi-billion dollar London tourism trade in the future--garnering more visitors to Google, and thus enabling more ad revenues.

For those of you pondering how this relates to the Matrix, just have a tiny think about that film. This time the women who'll be grabbing everyone's attention in a virtual representation of reality won't be in a red dress--she'll be in white.

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