Sunday, June 22, 2008

Google Ghost

Google Maps occasionally produces strange results in places where multiple images are stitched together. One such phantom is in the northern Chesapeake Bay: something that looks like a green mask.

According to Google's engineers, it was unplanned and not part of the original photographs.

Chikai Ohazama, who oversees mapmaking operations at the Internet giant, said the skull never actually appeared in the water. Instead, he said, it was created by accident on a computer as Google technicians digitally combined two satellite photos of the same area.

"I'm sure they just missed" the skull shape that was produced in the combined image, Ohazama said.

Ohazama said that the image had probably been up for a year at least and that there were no plans to remove it. He said there was no evidence that anyone at Google had drawn the skull on purpose.

"We try to reflect reality as much as possible," he said. "That couldn't happen. Or, it shouldn't happen."
I have not seen any of the other odd things mentioned in the article, but I have noticed some places where seams between images do not match up exactly. In the example below (from Google Earth), two photographs were taken from slightly different perspectives, so that the two sides of a bridge appear to trail off into the water.