Google Launches Free 3-D

Based on its acquisition of SketchUp, Google has now made 3-D modeling available to anyone for free (with a pro version that costs). Any models that people make can appear in a "3-D warehouse" (a kind of user-generated 3-D content gallery) and can be downloaded/integrated with Google Earth. It's the next step in the development of online mapping (all the majors are considering or actively starting to work on this).

Here's the Google PR statement:

Furthering Google's commitment to making the world's information more accessible and useful, today Google is launching a free version of Google SketchUp, a simple, powerful tool for creating, viewing, and modifying 3D images quickly and easily. Available at http://sketchup.google.com, Google SketchUp is a 3D design and visualization application created for anyone who wants to build 3D models for personal use or for display in Google Earth.

Additionally Google is launching the 3D Warehouse, a repository of 3D content that serves as a single source for searching, sharing and storing the world's 3D content. Available within Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/), the 3D Warehouse enables users to share their 3D creations and collaboratively develop 3D content for Google Earth. Both geo-referenced models (those that have been assigned a specific location in Google Earth) and non-geo-referenced (free standing) models are available in the 3D Warehouse.

Today's launch seamlessly integrates the powerful, easy-to-use modeling capabilities of SketchUp with the geospatial functionality of Google Earth, enabling users to more quickly and easily model the world around them in Google Earth.

Here's the Google Blog post. There's more to say about all this (and the larger competitive landscape of 3-D modeling and mapping) but no time right now.

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