Opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics are just days away and the city of Vancouver glitters in festivity. Its nightly sky has been adorned with 20 robotic searchlights thanks to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at “Vectorial Elevation” powered by Google Maps and Google Earth APIs.

It is an interactive artwork that allows users to direct powerful light beams and transform Vancouver’s skyline between February 4 - 28, 2010. Using a custom interface built on Google Earth and Map APIs, the web site Vectorial Vancouver lets participants design huge light sculptures by directing 20 robotic searchlights located around English Bay.

Users submit designs together with name, location and dedication or comments. Every night from dusk to dawn new designs are quietly rendered sequentially as they are added to a queue. The project automatically creates a personal webpage for each participant, documenting his or her contribution with views from 4 project webcams. With a 15 Km visibility radius, the installation intends to blend the virtual space of the Internet with one of the most emblematic public spaces in Vancouver (see live view snapshot).

The user interface for personalization is very intuitive, consisting of an interactive Google Maps view of an overlay of search lights in Vancouver and a 3D view of Vancouver in Google Earth. User selections and configuration of search lights are adjusted using the jQuery JavaScript library and Maps API, and are dynamically reflected in the 3D Earth view using the Earth API.

Find out more on the Google Blog about Google's other offerings like Street View snowmobile for fans of the Games. Or personalize your own Vancouver nightly skyline and let your imaginations and Olympic spirits soar!