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Google Earth: Now in Lower Res?

June 14th, 2006

What the…? Google Earth 4 was just released, with, they claim, “updated satellite data and much more detail for places in the world that didn’t have close-up information before.”

Not in Tokyo, they don’t. In fact, a lot of Tokyo is now lower resolution than it was before! The images are updated, yes, but strangely so. An entire swath of western Tokyo, including where I live, was replaced not only with lower-resolution images, but the images are from winter, with the ground covered in snow, making the details even harder to make out. Nishi-Shinjuku’s image is from a time when the skyscrapers cast long northerly shadows. My own workplace in Shinjuku, before easily recognizable, is now extremely hard to make out. Where cars on the street in front of my workplace used to be easy to spot, they’re now practically invisible in the more blurry, shadowed mush.

What the hell is up with that?

Until now, I’ve been showing off Google Earth to my students every semester, showing them points they know, starting off with our building. So much for that. They wouldn’t know what they are looking at.

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  1. June 15th, 2006 at 14:55 | #1

    Google Earth fetches image data from a remote server on the fly, so I don’t think the application version matters much. I’m still using version 3.0, and see the snowy patch in western Tokyo as well. The rest of Tokyo looks about the same (what I looked at, at least)… actually, I thought it was lower resolution at first, but it turns out the high resolution imagery was just rendering slower than usual. My old neighborhood in Makuhari still looks the same, at least.

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