Google’s new experiment "Land Lines" turns your scribbles into mesmerizing satellite imagery
Google’s Chrome Experiments web page is a large online showroom for interactive tech demos and offbeat art projects. It offers a curious peek into the future, when the tech it demos may become commonplace and actually serve a practical purpose in our daily lives (then again, maybe not). Google’s Experiments are rarely useful, but the tech lover in us always falls for them. Each new one just has a cool core premise that piques our curiosity and makes us want to try it. And hey, who knows? Maybe the complex algorithms powering today’s fun distractions may one day mature into something much more significant.
Either way, Google’s latest Chrome Experiment is called “Land Lines” and it is an exercise in recognizing visual input and matching it with patterns from satellite imagery. Or, in other words, you doodle stuff on your phone’s touch screen and then “Land Lines” matches it with lines and shapes from satellite photos. It could be a winding river bed, or the snow-clad ridges of a mountain range, or simply a turn on a road junction. To achieve this, Google uses machine learning (big surprise, huh?) and through thousands of data entries stored in “vantage point threes” to match your doodle with something on Google Earth. Cool, huh? Well, that’s just the “Draw” mode in “Land Lines”.
Exploring Planet Earth at high speeds
The other mode is called “Drag” and uses similar real-time analysis mechanics to match your input with something from Google Earth. However, in this mode, “Land Lines” assembles courses made up from smaller frames of satellite photos and joined together by way of interconnected highways, rivers, coastlines, and other geological or man-made formations. As you drag your finger along the screen, a fast, continuous line follows the “track” created by these interconnected shapes as new frames fall to place on its way as you go along.
“Land Lines” is a neat visual experience that you can try right now by following the link below. If you want to learn more about the technical aspect of the experiment, you can visit the “About” section by tapping the “?” icon in the top right corner of the screen. Of course, to experience "Land Lines", you'll need Google Chrome.