Google unveils 3D building blocks for Google Earth

13 Oct 2009

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Google Earth users can now build their own three-dimensional models of buildings in their hometown or city.

Described by Google engineers as a cross between Google Maps and a gigantic bin of building blocks, Google Building Maker allows users to pick a building and construct a model of it using aerial photos and simple 3D shapes.

If Google decides it’s a fair representation of the real thing, it will get added to Google Earth, for all the world to see.

At present, users can choose to make buildings in any of about 50 cities, but Google plans to add more cities.

Google engineers suggest it may also make a great tool for students to learn more about places, and for armchair tourists to not only visit, but engage in, an unfamiliar city.

The online tool will run on any Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer browser.

Buildings can be edited or modified using Google’s free, general-purpose 3D modelling tool SketchUp.

Building Maker, which Google describes as more like a game than an actual tool, is available in 14 languages.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Google Building Maker website.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com