Land Lines is the latest Chrome Experiment from Google and one which looks to combine user interaction with Google Earth imagery by making use of machine learning to match imagery taken from Google Earth, with the movements of the user. Taking part in the latest experiment is fairly straightforward as after heading to the new Land Lines webpage, the viewer will be presented with two options, 'Draw' and 'Drag'.
The first of the options, draw, requires you to simply draw a line of some sort or a shape. At which point the system will look to (almost) instantly match the drawing with Google Earth imagery of a similar shape in the natural world. For instance, the curvature of terrain, a mountain, a river, and so on. The second option, drag, requires you to drag the screen in various directions and while doing so, the system will stitch together various Google Earth images. The interesting aspect of drag, is that while the images are of different places, they will have a continuous thread which links them together. For instance, a river, where the river in different images connect to form what is viewed as one continuous river.
While this is a visually impressive experiment, the Google Developers blog posting places much of its focus on the actual speed in which the images are matched and displayed. As well as the speed of the process that was used to create the dataset required for Land Lines to run as it does, a result of a combination of “machine learning, data optimization, and vantage-point trees”. According to the blog, the culling down of more than fifty thousand high res images to a few thousand “was completed in just a few hours”, compared to “what ordinarily would take days”. While the use of the vantage-point tree to store the data allows for the very fast ability to match user gestures with the similar shapes found on Google Earth. As this is a Chrome Experiment, the entire process happens in your browser and the experience has been optimized differently depending on whether you are on mobile or desktop. The two images below detail how both draw and drag look and work, while those interested in giving the new Land Lines Chrome Experiment a try for themselves, can do so by heading through the link below.