What’s the difference between a place with patchy shrubs and a lush, wooded forest on Google Maps? In the past, the answer was nothing, they were both the same color of green. Now, Google Maps will be using a wider color spectrum to bring out more details.
Using high-definition satellite images from more than 98 percent of the world’s populated areas, Google uses a new color-mapping “algorithmic technique” to translate the information into a more vibrant map.
The idea, according to a blog post from the company, is to create a map with more natural features, so users can quickly distinguish between tan beaches and deserts, or blue lakes, rivers, oceans and ravines.
The team at Google Maps explains how the color-mapping works. “First, we use computer vision to identify natural features from our satellite imagery, looking specifically at arid, icy, forested, and mountainous regions. We then analyze these features and assign them a range of colors on the HSV color model.”
Google Maps has undergone a handful of updates this year in conjunction with the app’s 15th year in existence, including a better sense of depth in Live View, more detailed directions for commuting, and easy-to-find contribute and explore tabs.
Still to come, Google Maps is promising an update that will show more details about street width and shape. Allowing users to see exactly where sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian islands are.