Home > News content

The Story of Google Maps: A New Era

via:博客园     time:2018/10/15 10:03:42     readed:886


Here is the fourth article in the Google Maps story. If you haven't seen it before, welcome to make up the class:

"Keyhole, Google Maps Prequel"

The Birth of Google Maps

"From Google Maps to Google Earth? 》

This article is transferred from WeChat public account: Yu Yu thought (ID: yurii-says), author Yu Wei.

The picture at the head is: John Hank. Source: Men's Health.

Pucao is as silky as silk, no metastasis of vermiculite

Although Hanke became the head of Google Geo, Marissa Mayer never gave up on Maps. In 2006, the issue of the name of Google Maps came out again.

Although the name of Google Maps is fixed, Google’s advertising sales are still Adwords, and the map’s corresponding ad is called local ads, also known as Google Local. However, the sales team from various countries reported that the name Google Local is not easy to use, which is easy to cause misunderstanding. For example, there is no word directly corresponding to local in Spanish. In these areas, Google Local is difficult to understand, and even many people mistakenly think that this is Google Loco (Google Locomotive). Therefore, Mei Jie proposed that Google Maps and its advertisements are inseparable and should have a uniform name.

This is a big problem, involving brand awareness and marketing budget, no one dares to make decisions easily. Mei Jie gave three options: Google Local, Google Maps, Google Maps and Satellite. Keyhole's people thought: If you choose one, you don't have to worry about changing your name, but if you want to choose one, Google Local will have a lot of chances. Some people who are in favor of Google Maps are more accustomed to Google Maps, and some are more accustomed to Google Maps and Satellite. There are now three options available, and these people are likely to be disintegrated. So they suggested that they should also add an option: Google Local and Satellite. Mei Jie agreed.

The final decision was made by Google's seven top executives: CEO Eric Shmidt, product vice president Jonathan Rosenberg, advertising vice president Jeff Huber, Marissa Mayer, John Hanke, and two founders Larry · Page and Sergey · Brin. But at the time, John was in Paris, so he was absent.

When the meeting is over, Bill Kilday calls Debbie Jaffe to find out the situation —— interestingly, Bill is John's iron buddy, Debbie is Mei's confidant, although John and Mei sister are very general, Bill and Debbie relationship It's not bad.

Bill, you definitely want to know the final answer, but Melissa let me swear that I can't tell anyone. She intends to tell John personally. You know, the relationship between them is not good, she wants to use this opportunity to communicate directly.

Hey, Debbie, I spent too much energy on knowing this result. You have to tell me that name, I swear I won't tell John.

No, no. The result of Melissa’s hope is that after John came back, you told me the answer. She told me clearly, I won't tell you.

Hey, Debbie, don't be like this, please, tell me the result.

Ok, the result is Google Maps. But you have to make sure that you can never tell John. Melissa will call him this weekend.

Earlier in the day, Bill received a message from John: "When you hear anything, be sure to tell me." So, Bill put down the phone and returned the message: "Melissa will call you this weekend."

Early the next morning, Bill received a call from John from Paris.

Bill, is the name fixed?

deal. However, Melissa wants to call and tell you personally. I talked to Debbie last night and they want to know when you will be back. Melissa will call you this weekend.

Does Debbie know the name?

Um ……呃…… I think she knows.

Did she tell you?

I can't answer this question. Melissa wants to call herself and tell you the name. I swear to Debbie that I won't tell you.

Bill, what is the name?

John, I can't tell you. Melissa will call you tomorrow.

Bill, tell me the name!

Ok, the name is Google Maps. But you have to make sure you don't know, when Melissa calls you, you have to pretend to be overjoyed.

Ok, I will be pleasantly surprised.

No, John, you have to give her a feeling of being overjoyed.

Ok, I will perform like that.

However, John is not an actor. Although he tried his best to surprise him, he was immediately seen by Mei.

It must be Bill Kilday, the guy told you, Debbie must tell him!

After this incident, Keyhole people don't want to entangle the naming things in the future, they want to solve the problem once and for all. Bill spent $1,300 on a custom-made pink stone engraved with Google Maps. This stone is still in the office of Google Geo, and can be seen by people who come and go. It's not just a logo, it's an oath: the name Google Maps, which has been engraved on the stone, can never be changed.


The photo of this stone is not easy to find. I can't find it on the Internet. The friends I know about Google are not in the Geo department (it seems that there are very few Chinese?). Finally, I contacted Bill Kilday, the author of Never Lost Again, who provided the photo with great enthusiasm.


In 2004, the US government and the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began the DARPA Grand Challenge, which must be self-driving and must travel 140 miles in the Mojave Desert. . In 2004, autonomous driving technology was quite primitive, and no car could complete the journey.

In 2005, Stanley, the Stanford team, ran through the race and beat the other 195 cars to win the championship. Stanley is actually a Volkswagen Touareg with five laser radars on the roof to identify the exterior and generate 3D images. At the 2006 CES conference, Google founder Larry · Page and Stanley stepped on the stage and explained the principles of Stanley. Obviously, for autonomous driving, it is not enough to have a map of light. It must also be modeled with 3D.


Stanly of Stanford University. Source: Google

At this time, a company called @Last Software entered Google's sight. Keyhole people have long known about this company. To some extent, like Keyhole, they use software to simplify the work of complex professions, so that ordinary people can also play. @Last Software's software is designed for 3D modeling, but their users are widely distributed, and in addition to the building industry that everyone can think of, film crews, theaters, and woodworkers use it for design. Previously, Keyhole's people used @Last's software to generate 3D terrain in some unfriendly areas.

At the beginning of 2006, because of the 3D modeling, John invited @Last CEO Brad Stein to give a demonstration to Google's bosses, hoping to reach a cooperation. At that time, Sergey · Brin was troubled by private affairs. He wanted to send his girlfriend a gift on Valentine's Day. It was a 3D sculpture of "two hearts together", but he could not do well. model. After watching Brad's demo, Brin raised his question, so Brad started the 3D modeling in 5 minutes. This software called SketchUp makes Brin feel amazing.

Maybe we should buy your company?

At the time, Brad, John, and some people at the venue felt that Brin was joking: it was just talking about cooperation.

After a few weeks, John asked Brin, Page, and Schmidt to take a look at the plan to buy @Last's software.

Haven't we told you about it? I bought this company.

However, this company is not cheap, I think I have to officially confirm with you.

Hurry and buy this company!

In March 2006, Google acquired @Last Software (it is said that the purchase price was $45 million). Today, SketchUp is already a popular software, and designers can use it directly to express ideas and communicate with customers on the spot. Many ordinary people even use it for half an hour to use it for home renovation.


My friend Milo Yip designed his own decoration plan with SketchUp. According to my confirmation, it is highly consistent with the design. Milo Authorized Reference

Today, when you open Google Earth, you will find that the image is not just a rigid satellite or aerial photo. When you change the angle of view, the perspective of the building will change. — that is, many objects in Google Earth have been completed. 3D modeling. You know now, behind the scenes, it is the technology that originated in SketchUp.

Added: A 2012 report showed that SketchUp technology is no longer used in 3D modeling in Google Earth. There are several reasons for this analysis:

  1. Modeling data is not uniform, sometimes satellite images, sometimes aerial images;

  2. The modeling methods are not uniform, and different people have different modeling methods;

  3. The quality of modeling varies greatly from person to person;

  4. Not all buildings are modeled, and some buildings in the same area may have been modeled, some not;

  5. 3D modeled building locations are often inaccurate;

Therefore, Google has adopted a new generation of 3D modeling methods, Stereo Photogrammetry. Simply put, it is to build a 3D model against photos taken from different angles. Google only needs to fly the aircraft through different routes, get high-resolution photos from different angles, and the system can automatically build 3D models.




Nowadays, in 3D models in Google Earth, maps are no longer rigid images, and users can freely switch perspectives. For example, the three pictures are seen from the perspective of rotation, and the actual operation feels completely smooth. This is the power of 3D modeling.

Where am I? I am here!

In 2006, I saw Stanley's achievements and saw Page's speech at CES. Many companies started to contact Google Maps and hope to do something. Among them are vehicle manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Toyota, and Ford, as well as other companies, such as Garmin.

In 2006, Garmin found Google Maps and showed a mysterious device: an external GPS, painted in blue and gray, and the size of a box of playing cards, no screen. To use it, you must first use your phone for Bluetooth pairing, so the phone can get the current latitude and longitude, and then open Google Maps on your phone (then popular or BlackBerry), you will find: a blue dot appears on the map. This point is the user's current location.


Garmin's GPS 10 external Bluetooth GPS. Because there is no model in the book, I searched for Garmin products before 2006, only this one is more in line with the description, guessing it is. Source: Garmin

For everyone present at the time, this is tantamount to thunder.

In the past, even if Google Maps did a good job, it was not related to the user's specific location. At best, users in New York can see the full picture of New York at first, and users in Washington can see the full picture of Washington at first. To know exactly where “where I am, users have to manually enter their own address to search in order to locate their location. But just in the moment when the blue dot appeared, the map “live” was up, and the flashing blue dot made the user clearly aware that this is me, it turns out that I am really in the world of maps.


Google Maps on your BlackBerry has a blue dot on the right side of the screen. Source: RealGeek.com

However, the use of GPS at the time was not optimistic. After entering the 1990s, mobile phones became popular, making it easier for people to call the police. However, 911 also found that many alarm people could not accurately describe their location, which caused great trouble to the rescue. In 1996, the FCC mandated that in the future mobile phone operators must be able to locate the latitude and longitude of the alarm person. From 2000 onwards, the exact location of the alarm person must be transmitted to 911.

However, until 2006, the promotion situation was not optimistic. Although the mobile phone manufacturers were forced to add the GPS function of “emergency”, no manufacturer was willing to open their GPS function at any time, and it was not allowed to pass the third party. The software was turned on because the GPS solution at the time was too expensive. Because of this, Garmin's talents have mysteriously created this device that can maintain GPS positioning. But they don't know that in Cupertino, California, there is another company that is moving the same brain.

Now everyone who has used mobile maps knows: “I” is the blue dot on the map. Today, Apple even has a dedicated force, the name is called "the Blue Dot Team" (the Blue Dot Team), specializing in real-time positioning capabilities, Google also has a dedicated research team. But who would have thought that the little blue dot that everyone thinks is accustomed to today, it will cost a lot of effort and it will be born after a lot of troubles? Advances in technology are sometimes such a twist.

Updates: Apple's latest (September 2018) iOS 12 adds a feature RapidSOS. With it, when an iPhone user dials 911, the address will be & nbsp; safely and automatically & rdquo; sent to 911.

Predecessor of Google I/O

Everyone knows the annual Google I/O, which is a developer's event. Google will release new products and communicate with developers. But probably not many people know that the idea of ​​the first Google I / O is also related to the map.


Google I/O 2017. Source: engadget.com

Soon after the release of Google Maps, it attracted a large number of fans and even fans because it provided a large number of APIs and was provided free of charge. Bill, who is in charge of product and marketing, thinks that since it’s not possible to make money directly from it, it’s good to have a Google Activity Camp that attracts engineers, developers, and designers to use the Google Maps API. But Bill himself is not sure. After all, Google has only hosted small meetings and hackathons. This is the first time for Google.

The event was approved, and it’s great for Google to attract engineers and developers, but Google has no budget to build momentum for the event. However, activities that are purely for technical people do not require much money by themselves. Bret Taylor of the Geo team (remember, Mei's love will) is particularly enthusiastic about the event and puts a lot of energy into it.

On June 11, 2006, the Google Geo Developer Day was held as scheduled. According to the information that can be searched online, more than 300 enthusiasts present at the scene raised various questions: problems with the Google Maps toolset, lack of documentation for geocode, doubts about the use of KML … … At the scene of the "Big Three", Larry · Page, Sergey · Brin, Eric · Schmidt, they experienced the enthusiasm and expectations of the developers.

Even more wonderfully, on the afternoon of the same day, Bill invited everyone to the outside of Building 41, where the Google Geo team is located, to sit or lie on the lawn and communicate freely. What Bill didn't say was that he had already scheduled a plane to shoot high-resolution aerial images to take the Google headquarters that afternoon. In this way, the developers of Google Maps walked on the lawn and were photographed on the aerial map, which can be seen later in Google Maps. Undoubtedly, this triggered a new wave of climax.


Google Geo Developer Day (2006). Source: Mike Pegg@Flickr

In view of the success of this event, Google hosted another developer conference in 2007. The theme is not limited to Google Geo, but also includes Gmail, Web Tookit and more. In the next year, in 2008, Google expanded its series of activities into Google I/O to explain Google's various technologies, products, and strategies. Today, the annual Google I/O conference has become a festival for countless developers, and the developers who smoked the tickets for the Google I/O conference every year are happy for their good luck.

Street view is coming

In 2002, if you were driving in Palo Alto, you might see a car driving very slowly and the back window still open. You may feel weird, but you never think of it, the car is sitting on Google's three heavyweights — — Brin, Page, Melissa. Page held the camera in the back seat and took everything outside the car.

What is this doing? Is it crazy? Page's idea is simple: since the text can be searched, can the real world be searched? So, he decided to give it a try.

In 2004, a guy named Luc Vincent joined Google. Because the background is computer vision, he was assigned to Dan Clancy's team to participate in Google Books—— the project that scans various books for people to search. But shortly after he joined the company, Page found him and hoped he would participate in his own private project. The project, led by Stanford University professor Marc Levoy, extracts address information from successive shots in a streetscape format to generate images of the location. In Page, many jobs are the same whether you scan a book or extract information from a streetscape.

Street View is not the first game of Google. In 1979, MIT had a streetscape project, and later Nigelo Ponti, the CEO of Intel (the guy who wrote "Only paranoia can survive") was also involved. But there were no digital devices at the time, so they took a 16mm camera rack in the car to take a street view and only produced a film map every 10 seconds. Given the level of water at the time, they can do just that.

By the spring of 2004, Page's own Street View project had become Luc Vincent's “20% time project”, with 7 more Google employees and 17 more interns from Stanford University, Page. From time to time, I will come to pay attention to the progress of the project.

The earliest Google Street View car was a simplistic, dark-green Chevrolet wagon with a computer and a camera and laser-sensing device on the roof. The speed of the car cannot exceed 16 kilometers per hour, otherwise the image taken will be blurred and will not be used. Moreover, this system consumes a lot of power when it is running, and burning fuses is commonplace. In the end, they used a Honda gasoline engine to generate electricity in the car, which solved the problem. However, the system itself is still extremely unstable, often crashes, restarts, and can only be re-commissioned after returning to the company. That eccentric car that triggered several panic attacks in Mountain View that summer. In fact, until the end of 2005, the Google Street View project did not see any effective output.


The earliest street view car. Source: Google

In October 2005, the Street View project made a technical presentation at Building 40 in the headquarters, introducing the Street View project to the Google Maps team. But whether Street View can be made, the people of the Google Maps team are still skeptical: After all, according to the current situation of Street View, how much data will be invested in the future, how much data will be generated, this is unknown.

But Bill Coughran, Google’s engineering director, decided to support it, so Street View was formally established. Being a formal project means budget, scheduling, head, office … … Street View is no longer a sub-project of Google Books. It is assigned to Google Geo and reported to Brain, the technical leader of the Geo team.

Google chose the Street 2.0 Summit in 2007 (Where 2.0 is the conference initiated and hosted by O'Reilly, once a year, with the theme of development in www, starting in 2004 and last in 2011). It has unexpectedly aroused public interest. Unfortunately, the technology of the Street View project has been immature, the technical problems have not been solved, the system is still too complicated, too dependent on manual, too unstable. However, in 2007, things finally turned around.

Remember the Stanley we talked about before? In 2005, Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun and his team-built unmanned vehicle Stanley ran in the DARPA Grand Challenge of the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and won the championship. . After that, Google acquired Thrun's company. Another well-known figure in the unmanned community, Anthony Levandowski, a master's student at the University of California at Berkeley, joined Google (actually, Thrun had seen Levandowski before, because Levandowski's driverless motorcycle also competed in 2005. The DARPA, unfortunately did not run the full course).

In 2007, Thrun's team and Vincent restarted the Street View project. They completely redesigned the Street View car and set a fairly aggressive goal: in a total of 6 million miles of roads in the United States, the Street View project must cover 1 million miles.

The new Street View car abandoned the custom-made high-precision equipment, directly using off-the-shelf, consumer-grade camera equipment, giving up the laser sensor, and the lens does not require moving parts. It turns out that this "basic" design is quite effective. Soon, Google sent a team of street-view cars to the entire US. In the second half of 2007, it took less than a year, and the goal of “radical” was completed ahead of schedule.


In 2007, the street view car was photographed by netizens. Source: Mattew Weinstein@Facebook

Since then, Google Street View has continued to improve year after year, covering a wider area. Of course, it also encountered a lot of privacy issues (later Google added the ability to automatically blur faces and license plates to maintain privacy). According to the latest information, Google Street View car collection devices are now developed by themselves and no longer rely on third parties. In 2018, Street View in Japan has been able to provide "dog's perspective", in the North Sea, the streetscape even covered two offshore oil wells.


Today's coverage of Street View, blue means covered by street scene, the darker the color, the more accurate and detailed the street view data. Source: Google


Open another brain hole, today's street scene is actually not limited to "street", the image acquisition platform is not limited to cars. Tricycles can go deep into the alleys, walking the rucksacks to make the hills no longer an obstacle, trolleys can swim in the museum, snowmobiles can ride on the snow … … Source: Google

4000 cups of latte

In October 2006, John received an email:

Hi John. I am thinking, do we have a chance to meet?

Steve · Jobs

For John, Steve · Jobs is a technical genius he admired in college, but why did Jobs write to him? This should not be a phishing email? After a while John's phone rang, yes, it was Jobs. It is rumored that Apple is secretly developing a device. What is it? What does it have to do with the map? No one knows the answer.

On October 31, 2006, Jobs came to Google with Apple's software director Scott Forstall, who showed off a new device with a mobile version of Google Maps. What Jobs wants is to allow Apple's developers to access the back-end data of Google Maps so that maps, navigation, local search, targeting, and more can be moved to new devices.

Jobs also warned that Google employees participating in the project must be highly confidential and must not disclose any news about new devices. Within Google, the main force behind the development of Google Maps for mobile is the Zipdash team (this team was working on a map of mobile devices in 2003 and was later acquired, we talked about their stories before).

So the two sides formed a very different kind of cooperation: Apple needs the background interface of Google Maps, but can't say what it is used for; Google Maps has to do various optimizations for Apple, but don't know what device to use on it (know Can't be disclosed to others). In short, after Steve Jobs and John's efforts, Google Maps opened up a piece of “"; SAR" for Apple, and finally completed the project together.

On Google's side, there's also Jeff Hamilton, who is from Andy Rubin's team, and Google's Android is the work of Andy Rubin's team, and Jobs quite minds it. I don't know if Hamilton told the Android development team about the details of the iPhone. At least on the Google Maps side, he was always vague and said that he was developing the software on the mobile phone. You know, the era is still the world of feature machines, the most "smart" mobile phone is a full-keyboard BlackBerry. At the time, Eric · Schmidt, a Google CEO, was not a member of Apple’s board of directors and did not know the existence of the project.

On September 7, 2007, at the Apple conference, which was enough to go down in history, Jobs announced the first generation of the iPhone, which opened the era of smartphones. At the same time, he also specifically demonstrated the mobile version of Google Maps. Click to open, automatically search by GPS, search “Starbucks”automatically find nearby Starbucks …… In the applause and screams, Jobs ordered 4,000 cups of coffee for the audience.


Jobs showed the mobile version of Google Maps at the press conference. Source: the Verge

Jobs is going to show more than that. He switched to the satellite map mode, took a look at the Egyptian pyramids, took a look at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and finally came to the location of the conference: the Moscone Center in San Francisco. In the face of the audience's exclamation, Jobs smiled: very good?

“The order to order 4,000 cups of coffee on the spot” made the audience simmer. In fact, the talent for speech seems to be innate to Jobs. In 1988, Steve Jobs, who left Apple, hosted the launch of the NeXT computer. As expected, the NeXT computer sold this time should be priced at around $3,500, but because of Steve Jobs's commitment to detail and beauty (then he was not a smart and mature business leader), the NeXT computer eventually sold for $6,500. If you add a printer and a hard drive, you have to add another $4,000. The scene was a bit embarrassing. But then Jobs arranged a show: Let the NeXT computer and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's violinist Dan Kobialka perform the duet, A minor Bach Violin Concerto. At that time, few people thought that the computer could play music. This arrangement made the audience boiling.

However, Google Maps for iPhone will not repeat the tragedy of NeXT's screaming, it has been popular and its popularity has continued to rise. Previously, Google Maps users used Google Maps once every two weeks on average. But with the iPhone, the opening frequency of Google Maps has changed to 1 or 2 times a day. In other words, people are getting used to using Google Maps anytime, anywhere. In a month, Google Maps for iPhone traffic exceeded the total traffic of all mobile Google Maps. In 18 months, Google Maps for iPhone traffic has exceeded all PC versions of Google Maps.

Seeing the use of software (including maps) by smartphones has opened up a whole new world, and Google is determined to make great efforts to develop mobile software (now everyone knows that this is called App). They recruited Vic Gundotra, a senior talenter who has worked at Microsoft for fifteen years, and was responsible for the development of various mobile software. This brings up another question. The overlap between Gundotra and John's work: At the time, Google Maps for iPhone, which belonged to John, belonged to Gundotra?

To everyone's surprise, it wasn't John or Gundotra that influenced the final decision, not even Google, but Jobs.

If the damn Gundotra dares to come to Apple's headquarters, I must drive him out of the building. Let me just say, I don't want this guy to be within a mile of Apple's headquarters!

(To be continued)

China IT News APP

Download China IT News APP

Please rate this news

The average score will be displayed after you score.

Post comment

Do not see clearly? Click for a new code.

User comments

Related news