Friday, August 15, 2008

Ynet: Tel Aviv in 3D

Israel's leading portal Ynet, has today published a short article about the option of watching 3D models of Tel Aviv in Google Earth. I'm always surprised of how slow Israeli websites and users relate to Google Earth issues, as I've already wrote about the Tel Aviv 3D models 2 months ago.

Unfortunately the article has not been published in the English version of Ynet (, so here's a translation of the article, which includes an interview with an Israeli architect who's created many of the models in Israel, including of those shown in my previous post about Tel Aviv.

Go on a trip: Tel Aviv in 3D in Google Earth

Metroscape company designs virtual 3D copies in Google Earth, of famous buildings of the Tel Aviv landscape, such as the Opera tower and Kikar Ha-medina (the state square)

Wake up in the morning, feel up your canteen and go on a tour of Tel Aviv, without the soot and the humidity - via Google Earth, Google's 3D simulation software, offered for free download. From a top-down perspective, you can notice Kikar Ha-medina, the Opera tower on the beach, the Tel Aviv city hall and Gan Ha'ir. Google Earth is a sort of a large virtual globe, which enable to focus on any area and watch from up close, to add and to remove layers of information about the visible locations. Now Tel Aviv is also on the map.

The software Google provides includes the maps and the aerial photography, which is purchased from other companies, and the 3D models are designed by users with Google Sketchup. Adar Openheim, architect, designer and founder of relatively new Metroscape (10 months old) which was merged with 3DIG simulation company, is responsible for many of those models.

"It started as a hobby, to model buildings I like in Tel Aviv and upload them to Google Earth, even when there were still no 3D buildings in Israel", Openheim tells. "In other countries around the world, especially in the US, there are whole cities modeled in 3D, but in Israel there's no one in that field".

Google Earth, as Openheim tells, is a more than an entertainment tool for Geography enthusiasts, but an advertising platform with a potential still not utilized in Israel as it is abroad. How is Google Earth used as an advertising platform? "Every building in Google Earth is a sort of a link which can be clicked, like in a browser", he explains. "When the pointer is over a building, it (the building) turns blue and you can click it to see information about the building - for example, an hotel - and to reach the company's website. It workd both ways, and from the company website a link can fly you directly to the hotel in Google Earth".

- Is tourism the ideal field for this kind of publicity?
"Not only. The first company we worked with was a real estate agency, B. yair. We put up models of its projects from Eilat to Netanya. In the company's website there's a link next to each project, and the users can see it in Google Earth".

- How is model design made?
"First thing we do is to take photos of the building from all angles, and we work with the photos. In most cases we don't have the buildings' drawings. I use an aerial photograph to see the external outlines of the building, and I rely on the photos the customer took".

"Around the world there's a serious demand for Google Earth 3D models, because most places have detailed layers and indices of streets and Yellow Pages. We still don't have it in Israel, but I believe it's a matter of time. I personally think it has a great potential, in zones like tourism, marketing and real estate", Openheim claims.

More than a few large companies, says Openheim, are checking the possibility of joining. "The peak was Walk Disney, who modeled the entire Disneyworld in Google Earth. You can tour, buy tickets and watch clips of the rides, all from inside the 3D model".

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