June 04, 2009

New Google Street View Feature Reminiscent of Famous SciFi Concept!

Greetings. It took all of five seconds playing with Google's new Smart Navigation features in Street View for me to realize why it seemed so instantly familiar.

Just announced today, Smart Navigation deals with the "click 'til your finger goes numb" issue with Street View -- the need to click along the many street arrows one after the other to slowly navigate progressively, even though your destination was already in sight.

Smart Navigation now introduces navigation "ovals" (on the street) and rectangles (on buildings, etc.) that can be moved directly onto target areas, then clicked-in for instant relocation to that spot (or zooming, as appropriate).

I started popping down a local street using the ovals (Google calls them "pancakes") and immediately realized that it was (in effect if not execution!) very reminiscent of the "stepping disks" teleportation technology that Larry Niven developed in various of his classic science fictions works. The shorter range versions were often metal plates in the pavement that would "pop" the user down the street (for example) as per arrow markings, yielding a visual presentation that might have been very similar to using Street View Smart Navigation.

So, in a way, matter transmission comes to Google.

Luckily, it's only virtual. You think that you want real personal teleportation? You might not after reading A Matter of Bandwidth, an essay on matter transmission that I wrote a decade ago for CACM. Unfortunately, some readers at the time didn't realize that it was an April Fools' Day piece!


Posted by Lauren at June 4, 2009 04:27 PM | Permalink
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