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[Cross posted from the Google Research blog]

Today, we launched Julia Map on Google Labs, a fractal renderer in HTML 5. Julia sets are fractals that were studied by the French mathematician Gaston Julia in the early 1920s. Fifty years later, BenoĆ®t Mandelbrot studied the set z2 − c and popularized it by generating the first computer visualisation. Generating these images requires heavy computation resources. Modern browsers have optimized JavaScript execution up to the point where it is now possible to render in a browser fractals like Julia sets almost instantly.

Julia Map uses the Google Maps API to zoom and pan into the fractals. The images are computed with HTML 5 canvas. Each image generally requires millions of floating point operations. Web workers spread the heavy calculations on all cores of the machine.

We hope you will enjoy exploring the different Julia sets, and share the URLs of the most artistic images you discovered. See what others have posted on Twitter under hashtag #juliamap. Click on the images below to dive in to infinity! (Supported on Chrome 8, Firefox 3.6, Safari 5 and above).







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The Google Maps API has always been a great way to visualize data, but recently more and more advertising agencies are realizing the potential that the Maps API has for creative and engaging product campaigns.

Whether it’s automobiles, zombie trains, a blockbuster action movie, a board game, or even a bathroom cleaning product, there’s a map application for that product and it is changing the face of interactive advertising.

Domestos Flush Tracker

Domestos is a brand of bleach sold in the UK, South Africa, and Poland. As an advertising campaign for this bathroom product, Domestos created a “Flush Tracker” that lets you track where your flush goes after it leaves your house and enters the local sewer system. The animated line on the map simulates the speed at which refuse moves the through sewer system.

A-Team - Drive the A-Team Van

Nothing is more iconic of the A-Team than Mr. T’s van. Using the Earth API, users can drive Mr. T’s van through 3D models of 15 international cities. This implementation was seamlessly embedded into a YouTube landing page for the movie, where users can watch special movie clips that are unlocked by completing certain driving stunts.

Virgin Trains - Don’t Go Zombie...

From Virgin Trains, “The streets have been taken over by frustrated car-driving zombies who need to be saved. They have to get to the comfort of a Virgin Train and only you can help them with your special ticket machine. Follow the Map to get to your destination, saving zombies on the way.”

Alfa Romeo - Virtual Ownership

Using the Street View API, users can plug in their address and virtually place an Alfa Romeo Giulietta in their driveway. The size, color, and positioning of the vehicle can also be manipulated, creating the perfect postcard to share on Facebook, Twitter, or email to a friend.

Monopoly City Streets

Although no longer live, this highly addictive, global Google Maps version of Monopoly will always be remembered as a great advertising campaign. Users could buy any street in the world and build hotels, houses, stadiums, castles and skyscrapers (to name a few). Fortunately, this truly unique idea was well documented and you can view demos of the game on YouTube: http://goo.gl/p0aEh and http://goo.gl/uXx4k

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The Maps API v3 aims to minimise the time it takes to load and display the initial map. Indeed the architectural changes needed to reduce this delay on mobile devices were the primary motivation for the break from the Maps API v2. The biggest factor affecting load time is the size of the JavaScript, as both the speed at which this is downloaded, and the speed it is parsed before execution by browsers is directly related to its size.

As the Maps API v3 continues to evolve we are keen to add more features, but as we do so we must be mindful of the impact they have on the size of the API. In response to this constraint we are kicking off 2011 by introducing a new concept to the Maps API v3, called a library.

A library is a set of Maps API features that are only loaded when explicitly requested by the application. By packaging features into a library, we can deliver them to applications that need those features without penalising the loading times of applications that do not. A library has its own child namespace under google.maps, and is a fully supported component of the Maps API.

The first library that we are launching is the geometry library. The geometry library provides a set of utility functions for performing distance, heading, and area calculations in a spherical geometry, such as on the surface of the Earth, and also provides functions for handling encoded polylines. To use these functions in your Maps API application you must request the geometry library when loading the API:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/api/js?libraries=geometry&sensor=true_or_false"></script>

For more information on the geometry library, see the Maps API Documentation and Reference. If you think of additional spherical geometry functions you would like to see added to the geometry library, please log a feature request on the Maps API Issue Tracker. If you have any questions about using the geometry library, the Maps API v3 Forum is a great place to find help.