Google Ocean to be launched by Al Gore?

by Owen James

Rumours are circulating that Google is to launch a Google Ocean search tool next month, to work alongside Google Earth.

A post on CNET started the Google Ocean rumours. The site reports that former vice president Al Gore will be speaking at a Google Earth event on February 2nd, but adds that:

It’s another speaker’s name that gives the tip-off about what the event might be about.

That person is oceanographer Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation.

Hmm–an aquarium, oceanographer, and a high-profile politician interested in the fate of the Earth. Perhaps this will be the announcement of Google’s work to add 3D ocean maps to Google Earth?

An invitation to the event described it only as an announcement of “the next big step in the evolution of Google Earth.” 

The Google Ocean tool was originally mooted back in April 2008:

The company has assembled an advisory group of oceanography experts, and in December invited researchers from institutions around the world to the Mountain View, Calif., Googleplex. There, they discussed plans for creating a 3D oceanographic map, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The tool–for now called Google Ocean, the sources say, though that name could change–is expected to be similar to other 3D online mapping applications. People will be able to see the underwater topography, called bathymetry; search for particular spots or attractions; and navigate through the digital environment by zooming and panning.

The event will take place at San Francisco’s newly refurbished California Academy of Sciences on February 2nd. Watch that space!

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