Tag Archives: 3D

Apple Launches New ‘Maps’ App in iOS 6, Includes Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Real-Time Traffic, 3D Maps

24 hours ago Apple announced  the new 'Maps' app for iOS 6, which includes turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic and 3D maps: "Designed by Apple from the ground up, Maps gives you turn-by-turn spoken directions, interactive 3D views, and the stunning Flyover feature. All of which may just make this app the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever."

Here's the reactions on the geoblogs and other sources:

  • Let's start with MacRumors which were amongst the first to let us know about it
  • Spatially Adjusted links to the Apple attribution page for the Maps app, and it's TomTom data for navigation amongst other sources, and not surprisingly, there's still OpenStreetMap data in there like for the latest Photo app
  • Spatially Adjusted also shares an interesting entry named Will Apple Maps Impact Web Mapping? "Thus in the short term, it becomes one more API we must learn if we are deploying to Apple devices. [...] Second, it might not be useful for GIS applications. [...] Third, if you are already using Google or Mapbox, do you really need to switch?"
  • Peter Batty also shares an interesting reaction: "Another interesting development is that a good number of major car manufacturers have committed to adding a button on their steering wheel within the next 12 months that will activate Siri on your iOS device, which will make iOS devices even more attractive as in car devices. [...] The most obvious thing missing from Apple Maps that Google Maps has is Street View. They also didn't mention anything about an offline mode, which Google announced last week. [...]  Another thing missing, which I use a lot on Google Maps on my iPhone, is routing using public transit."
  • Adena at APB is collecting 'facts' about Apple's new Maps app
  • The Map Room links to Cult of Mac's 4-minutes hands-on demonstration of the Apple Maps app
  • You can read more on The Verge, Gizmodo, and several other generic sources 
  • If you want to see the 10-minutes video announcement and demo of the Maps app, fast forward to about 98 minutes into the talk

I expect more Apple Maps information and analysis in the coming weeks, and by the time it becomes available as part of iOS 6 "next Fall".

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Google Announces Much Improved 3D Models for Google Earth, Offline Maps for Android, 12 New Map Maker Countries, and more

Today Google announced a few major upcoming features to their map-related products, including much improved 3D models for Google Earth and offline maps for Android.

From APB and the official Google blog :

  • On the 3D models: "today we are excited to announce that we will begin adding 3D models to entire metropolitan areas to Google Earth on mobile devices." [...] "[...] advanced automated 3D model creation from imagery. He noted it’s not new, but it far better than what came before. It uses stereo photogrammetry from many well overlapping images. [...] Google is contracting planes to collect the imagery." [...] "By the end of the year we aim to have 3D coverage for metropolitan areas with a combined population of 300 million people."
  • On Android offline maps: "So today we’re announcing that offline Google Maps for Android are coming in the next few weeks. Users will be able to take maps offline from more than 100 countries. This means that the next time you are on the subway, or don’t have a data connection, you can still use our maps."
  • They also announced Street View Trekker: "There’s a whole wilderness out there that is only accessible by foot. Trekker solves that problem by enabling us to photograph beautiful places such as the Grand Canyon so anyone can explore them. All the equipment fits in this one backpack [...]"
  • Map Maker is coming to several new countries (too bad for my hopes of seeing Google move to OpenStreetMap data ;-): "Today we’re announcing the expansion of Map Maker to South Africa and Egypt, and to 10 more countries in the next few weeks: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland."

If you want to see screenshots of the event, CNET has plenty of them.


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The Next Dimension of Google Maps Event Announced for June 6th

While we'll know in a few days what this presumably big announcement in terms of upcoming features is all about, Google sent an invitation to 'The Next Dimension of Google Maps' event that will be hosted next Wednesday. In addition to CNET, I saw it featured on Slashdot and MacRumors.

From the invitation: "At this invitation-only press gathering, Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps and Google Earth, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at Google Maps and share our vision. We'll also demo some of the newest technology and provide a sneak peek at upcoming features that will help people get where they want to go -- both physically and virtually. We hope to see you there."

I like MacRumors' analysis: "The timing of Google's event naturally leads to speculation that it has been specifically planned to upstage any Apple announcement about mapping in iOS 6 and to show what users will be missing out on with the transition by Apple."

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OpenLayers 3D project (using Cesium WebGL globe)

There is a new project on Github that has made a 3D view for OpenLayers!  It integrates AGI's new open source WebGL globe (Cesium) and uses the OpenLayers drawing & navigation tools to interact with the globe.  Support for WMS layers and feature importing are next on the to-do list.

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3D GeoInfo Conference Summary

Here's parts of my talks notes of the 3D GeoInfo conference. Hope some elements are useful to some of you.

General notes

  • The whole conference was more of the research / academics type than the commercial providers one
  • "Glocal": global and local at the same time
  • General decline in conference attendance: different ways of networking and training, economic context
  • Next 3D GeoInfo will be in Istanbul in November

Talk notes


Opening talk

Opening talk, Jacynthe Pouliot

  • 7th 3D GeoInfo conference
  • First time in North America
  • The 7th 3D GeoInfo was part of the Global Geospatial Conference (13th GSDI), which had about 700 participants, vs about 60 specifically for the 3D GeoInfo track
    • Thanks to the global conference, the exhibition hall was pretty big had lots of booths
  • The opening talk concluded with a speech by University Laval faculty dean

Modeling 3D topographic space against indoor navigation requirements

Brown, Germany

  • Requirements for indoor navigation for users
  • Use cases
    • Use cases such as routing to single or multiple destinations
    • Scenarios, considering access controls to locations (rooms)
    • Considering obstacles
  • Existing models: CityGML, IFC, 3d graphics formats... All have severe limitations for indoor navigation (none support navigation constraints)
  • Prohibited maneuver: physically possible, but prohibited, such as a turn on a one way street
  • Semantic and navigation constraints models for indoor navigation
  • Future work to be on extending existing model to remove current limitations for indoor navigation

Indoor localization using wifi fingerprinting for LBS applications

Sohn, York University

  • Augmented city, virtual and physical spaces become part of the same continuum, not two separate dimensions anymore
  • Using the Google Earth plugin for visualization
  • Linking real life webcams with live virtual world models, pretty interesting
  • Wifi fingerprinting requires multiple access points to enhance location accuracy
  • Using both wifi fingerprinting and wifi trilateration
    • Using Received Signal Strength (RSS)
  • Went Technical talk on location accuracies
    • Correctness rates of 80-90%

Enhancing visibility of labels in 3D navigation maps

Vaaraniemi, BMW

  • Visual presentation
  • Labels in 3D are often a problem when they're behind objects
  • Solutions includes transparency, wire framing
  • Goals: readability, mapping to element, spatial orientation
  • Draw behind and draw before doesn't work
  • Semi-transparent approaches
  • Five concepts: baseline, cut-aways (bad!), transparency aura (confusing too), glowing labels, glowing roads (best in my opinion)
  • They implemented prototypes and benchmarking, in OpenGL 3
  • During questions: how does it scale in mobile devices (instead of just cars)
  • During questions: labels at different scales, how does it deal with generalization
  • During questions: research regarding bending the faraway part of the map to better show labels

Semantic 3D modeling of multi-utility networks

Becker, Germany

Missed most of the talk.

  • Energy demands
  • Need: homogeneous representation, 3D topological and functional model, support for hierarchies and interdependencies

Integrating scale and space in 3d city models

Ledoux, Netherlands

  • 5D: space plus time plus scale
    • Integrated into a 5D hypercube
  • Hypercube advantages: consistency, queries, data management
  • Generalizations processes
  • With the cube, there are no precomputed scales (18 for Google Maps and others), the cube is sliced at the requested scale each time
  • Slicing the space-scale cube non-horizontally in the scale
    • Interesting, automatically provides details near and low details away
  • Multiple dimensions slicing
  • Problem: gigantic storage capacity required
    • They'll try putting the cube in database

Generalization and viz of 3D building models in CityGML

Ullah Baig, Malaysia

  • Generalization: reduces data volume, complexity and unnecessary details
  • We're at semantic-based generalization for 3D building models... It evolved quite a lot in the past decade
  • Presented generalization techniques and algorithms

Modeling an application domain extension of CityGML in UML

Van Den Brink , Netherlands

  • Extended IMGeo to 3D
    • CityGML was too generic and IMxxx is rich on semantics, but 2D only
  • Data providers in Netherlands will have, by law, to use the IMGeo model
    • Mandatory, with optional elements
  • Application domain extension = ADE
  • They are at the conceptual stage
    • Next step is test the model

Keynote: Registration, detection and classification in point clouds in urban scenes

Ioannis Stavos, city university of new york

  • Lidar can use the differences in intensity of the return of the signal
  • Accuracy of 5mm
  • Point clustering with planar segmentation
  • Inherent problems at borders
  • Can infer lines and polygons from the point clusters
  • Presentation went technical
  • Range-intensity registration
  • Overlaying textures from 2D pictures on the 3D model
  • Doing Fourier transform to distinguish cars from trees within the lidar point cloud
  • Filling hidden parts (from object in front) using repeating patterns
  • Members of his team went to work for Google
  • Accuracy is about 85-90%
  • This was not really a keynote, the topic could have been in a common track... Nothing high level

Volumetric algorithms for single tree delineation towards A fully automated process for the generation of forests

Buecken, Germany

  • Visually impressive
  • Accuracy of over 90%
  • Excellent presentation despite the lack of notes

A service-based concept for camera control in 3D geovirtual environments

Klimke, Germany

  • So many challenges for 3D environments
    • Including heterogeneity, massive storage, updates, accuracy, etc...
  • Thick clients vs thin clients... Thin are required for mobile devices
  • Proposing a camera control service
  • One of the Goals: transfers part of the complexity and computation power required to the thick client instead of the thin client on mobile devices

Representing 3D topography in a DBMS with a star-based data structure


  • Constrained Delaunay tetrahedralisation (TEN)
    • Ten is an analogy to TIN
  • Why TEN: Storage is is simplified, speed up spatial analysis, features are represented, robust implementation, spatial relations between unconnected features explicitly stored
  • Disadvantage of TEN: large database size
    • this talk is about compression of TEN data
  • Attempts were made in the past, but had serious limitations (not topological)
  • They're proposing a powerful 3D data structure
  • Easy to implement in a RDBMS
    • They did it in PostGIS
  • Pretty interesting


Can topological per-culling of faces improve rendering performance of city models in Google Earth?

Ellul, U.K.

  • Removing 3D polygon faces that are hidden from external view and merging those that overlap
    • Saved about 40% of space
    • Display time was about 2x faster
  • Might be significant for mobile devices and for reduced bandwidth situations
  • They're going to use WebGL instead of the Google Earth plugin
  • Google Earth is limited in terms of ingested file size
    • Solution is a tiled-approach... or switch to WebGL!

Revealing the benefits of 3D topology on under-specified geometries in geomorphology

Lowner, Germany

  • Went technical presentation
  • Lack of standard that fits the needs of geomorphology
  • Handling the fuzziness of geomorphological representations

Geometric-semantical consistency validation of CityGML models

Wagner, Germany

  • Pretty technical talk on validating CityGML models
  • Java application with GUI for the CityGML validation and create reports, called CityDoctor

Keynote - Philippe Cantin: building large cities for video games

  • Formerly from Ubisoft
  • CAD, GIS and video games worlds still have a lot to learn from each other
  • The practical components of moving in 3D video games
  • 3D sound spheres and light sources have to be taken into account
  • The main constraint: memory required to load 3D elements... Constantly freeing and loading 3D objects
  • Required collaboration between stakeholders: developer, marketer,, designer, producer, etc
  • Concurrent edition of 3D environments... Like the Hero Engine (game industry)... Boeing did something similar instead of turn-based edition
  • City engine from the University of Zurich
  • Procedural building: instead of creating objects one by one, algorithms build objects such as building based on styles
  • Gaming industry also going in the cloud

Advancing DB4GeO

Kit.edu Breuning, Germany

  • Open source, at least the core
  • Object-oriented DB written in java
  • Seems to have a lot of advanced features
  • Imports exports CityGML data
  • Includes a web-based access using a RESTful architecture
  • Visualization with WebGL
  • Pretty impressive

Glob3 Mobile: an open source framework for designing virtual globes on iOS and Android mobile devices

Santana, Spain

  • It's a virtual globes framework for mobile devices
  • Oriented for iOS and Android, with a common API
    • iOS constraints, Android fragmentation... So nothing is perfect
  • They use a C++ code converter to create java code for their Glob3 engine
  • WebGL scheme
  • Embeddable 3D globe
  • Tiled layer and WMS compliant
  • Showed a demo and seems to work great!
  • Next steps...
    • Html5 and WebGL... Currently runs very well
    • Add 3D models and geometries to the globe
  • Glob3m on glob3 & Ami

Reconstruction of rectilinear building facets

Utrecht university, Lankveld

  • Point-based urban reconstruction
  • Technical presentation
  • Making polygons out of a cloud of points in 2D
  • Seems pretty effective

Reconstruction, storage and application of 2.7D models

Gorte, delft university

  • TIN with vertical walls... 2.7D is between 2.5D and 3D
  • Context is urban hydrology
  • 2.5D DEM with 3D buildings
  • Using the star model
  • Storing TINs in a single table
  • Removing points that are coplanar, then removing colinear middle points

A 3D GIS implementation for realizing 3D network analysis and routing simulation for evacuation purposes

Karas, Turkey

  • Evacuation scenarios
  • Using Oracle Spatial and a java-based 3D GIS, JOGL bindings for OpenGL
  • Supports CityGML, they used for visualization
  • Network analysis all done within Oracle Spatial
  • They built a routing instructions engine, instructions for people getting evacuated

3D Geospatial modeling and visualization for marine environment: the Canadian arctic

Sahlin, Canada

  • The biosphere is essential composed of the marine ecosystem, the land-based is of a small volume in comparison
  • Study in the Beaufort Sea area, near the Mackenzie river delta
    • 560km wide delta, quickly goes to 1km depth
  • Looking at snapshots in time, the temporal component is usually essential to consider in oceanography
  • He found that the best tool for him was GoCAD
    • Table comparing the various options
  • Continuous 3D space not well integrated into 3D GIS modeling tools
  • 3D GIS still have a lot of lacks in terms of 3D spatial analysis comparing to the 2D analysis features
  • Kringing interpolation worked best for them
  • They tried EnterVol for ArcGIS

Keynote: Richard Mongeau - measurements and 3D representations of the territory by land surveyors of the City of Montreal

City of Montreal, Geomatics Division

  • Talk in French but with slides in English... pretty strange since most of the audience can't understand French
  • Land surveyors act... Law that specifies reserved acts for land surveyors
    • Recognized by OIQ
  • 90 colleagues at their Geomatics Division
  • 4120 geodetic points on the Montreal island, passive network
  • Active network of about 12 geodetic locations
  • 3D city model built for the 'Montreal' project done almost a decade ago
    • They significantly update it since then
  • With Bentley, LOD-1 and LOD-2, data is piped directly into CityGML standard
  • Data sometimes comes from photogrammetry
  • They use RhinoTerrain software
  • They also use terrestrial lidar
  • Conveying positional accuracy metadata is crucial, users must know what they have in their hands
  • Finding the sources of errors and data integration issues
  • Lasergrammetry with target for calibration and validation
  • Data customers sometimes ask for centimeter accuracy while they don't really need such accuracy
  • Legal cadastre in 3D, underground, such as the new planetarium project
  • They use Bentley software for sewer networks and water distribution networks
  • They use color coding for representing the various categories of accuracy
  • The level of detail they have for the whole city is impressive
  • They develop a lot of tools with Bentley, which certainly is happy to work with such a customer
  • They also do some dynamic data acquisition, such as mobile lidar
  • They have an automated tree inventory
  • They use a lot of various software, Bentley, Oracle Spatial, FME, ArcGIS, 3D PDF, and even Google Earth
  • They have technical standards and even a 3D ethics charter!
  • Apparently, not that many municipalities have so integrated 3D systems
  • Excellent and funny talk, but since it was in French, he lost a lot of attendees

A 3 steps Procedure for enriching augmented reality games with CityGML 3D semantic modeling

Zamyadi, Canada

  • Energy Wars mobile game
    • Location-based scenario and uses augmented reality
    • This was a Geiode-funded project
  • Absence of a methodology for AR-oriented 3D data modeling
  • Their 3 steps: reverse engineering, enriching with 3D features, mapping to CityGML
  • One of the main reason for choosing CityGML, is for interoperability
  • Using a CityGML ADE (application domain extension)
  • This is mostly at the UML stage, the impact on the modeling process has not been tested yet

Implementation of a National 3D standard: Netherlands

Zlatanova, Netherlands

  • Standard named IMGeo, information model geography
  • Integration of CityGML and IMGeo
  • IMGeo 2.0 established in
  • OGC 3DIM adopted their approach
  • Port of Rotterdam uses in some cases physical models (!) to visualize underground 3D
  • Thanks to these efforts, stakeholders can now have "focused 3D ambitions"

Exploring cultural heritage resources in a 3D collaborative environment

Hidalgo, Spain

  • For presentation, analysis and exploration
  • Openwonderland, collaborative virtual world
  • They used "improvise" build-browse-behold java software to build and browse visualizations interactively
    • Demoed
  • Mostly at the conceptual stage - Interface not tested by users yet
  • Speaker not so comfortable in English

OpenBuildingModels - Towards a platform for crowdsourcing virtual 3D cities

Uden, university of Heidelberg

  • OpenStreetMap and the Google 3D Warehouse
  • OSM-3D: 3D globe based on OSM and SRTM-DEM data
  • Prerequisites for 3D VGI have never been this good: Kinect, Photosynth... Low cost hardware and service-based photogrammetry
  • Current issues:
    • No 3D support in OSM's simple data model
    • Not enough tools for users to contribute various 3D information in different LoDs
  • Vision for OpenBuildingModels
    • Free to use repository, with links to OSM
    • There is already multiple 3D models communities out there
      • 3D warehouse, opensceneryx, free3dmodels, shapeways, archive3d
    • Openbuildingmodels is a prototype at the moment
    • Using PostGIS, GeoServer, OpenLayers
    • Challenges: model georeference, and various other minor elements
  • Excellent presentation
  • Next big thing is 3D VGI

Mobile modeling for crowdsourcing building interior models

Rosser, uk

  • For exterior, Google Building Maker, for interior Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp)
  • OpenRoomMap, extending OSM for indoor mapping - indoorosm
  • User control on sensitive data
  • Smartphones for data capture, but georeferencing remains an issue (no GPS indoor)
    • They built a prototype app for Android's galaxy nexus
  • Many challenges in the data capture, be to do many assumptions
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Glob3 Mobile: Open Source Multi-Platform Virtual Globe Engine

At last week's 3D GeoInfo conference, I learned about the open source Glob3 3D GIS and Glob3 Mobile 3D virtual globe.

There isn't much on the sourceforge website: "glob3 is an open source 3D GIS multiplatform framework written in java with a very non restrictive license and advanced features." 

​But you'll get more on this page for Glob3 Mobile: "Glob3 Mobile is an open source 3D multiplattform virtual globe engine, running in mobile devices (Android and Apple) and in HTML5 web browsers. In this first version, it allows to connect to any OGC WMS public layer, and show it on the globe. Glob3 Mobile is also a framework for virtual globe development. It allows to write plugins directly in Javascript, and these plugins can run in the three plattforms (Android / Apple / web browsers). The project is currently in development, but first plugin examples can be tested in this site."

The apps for iOS and Android are free.

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DB4GeO: Open Source Geospatial Database for 3D Data

I was at the 3D GeoInfo conference last week and I learned about the DB4GeO / DB3D open source geospatial database, which is a Java object-oriented database focusing on 3D data. It supports CityGML, has a RESTful API and has its own WebGL visualization tool.

Since I failed to find much about it on the web other than the GitHub page (it seems the code wasn't synchronized for a while), let me serve you the abstract [pdf] of last week's presentation: "The analysis of complex 3D data is a central task for many problems in the geo- and engineering sciences. Examples are the analysis of natural events such as mass movements and volcano eruptions as well as 3D city planning and the computation of 3D models from point cloud data generated by terrestrial laser scanning for 3D data analysis in various domains. The volume of these data is growing from year to year. However, there is no geo-database management system on the market yet that efficiently supports complex 3D mass data, although prototypical 3D geo-database management systems are ready to support such challenging 3D applications. In this contribution we describe how we reply to these requirements advancing DB4GeO, our 3D/4D geo-database architecture. The system architecture and support for geometric, topological and temporal data are presented in detail. Besides the new spatio-temporal object model, we introduce new ideas and implementations of DB4GeO such as the support of GML data and the new WebGL 3D interface. The latter enables the direct visualization of 3D database query results by a standard web browser without installing additional software. Examples for 3D database queries and their visualizations with the new WebGL interface are demonstrated. Finally, we give an outlook on our future work. Further extensions of DB4GeO and the support for the data management for collaborative subway track planning are discussed."

I'd like to see the differences between PostGIS vs DB4GeO features in regards to 3D geodata. Is DB4GeO more and a playground for researchers?

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Apple Moving to In-House Mapping Service with 3D Views in iOS 6?

MacRumors shares a long entry named Apple Moving to In-House Mapping Service with 3D Views in iOS 6?

From the 9TO5Mac report: "Apple will drop the Google Maps program running on iOS since in favor for a new Maps app with an Apple backend. [..] The most important aspect of the new Maps application is a powerful new 3D mode. The 3D mode does not come enabled by default, but users simply need to click a 3D button that is conveniently and visibly stored in the app. Perhaps under the fold like the current traffic, pin, and map view buttons. This 3D mode is said to essentially be technology straight from C3 Technologies: beautiful, realistic graphics based on de-classified missile target algorithms."

We mentioned in the past that Apple Acquired Web Mapping Firm Poly9 and Apple's C3 Technologies 3D Maps Also Offer Street Views and Interior Views.

Related, Apple's iPhoto maps now show attribution to OpenStreetMap, we mentioned Apple using OpenStreetMap data in March.

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Google Geonews: Google Maps Cube Game Unleashes, Photo Tours in Google Maps Announced, New 45° Imagery, and much more

Some pretty interesting Google geonews in batch mode.

From official sources:

  • Google announced Photo tours in Google Maps: "Photo tours are available for more than 15,000 popular sites around the world [...] To produce these photo tours, we use advanced computer vision techniques to create a 3D experience from public, user-contributed Picasa and Panaromio photos."
  • The new 3D buildings announced last month are now available in Google MapsGL
  • There's new 45° imagery available for 19 cities, International: Avignon, France; Reus, Spain; Rotterdam, Netherlands; L'Alcudia, Spain; Gandia, Spain; Sueca, Spain; Burgos, Spain; Los Palacios Y Villafranca, Spain, US: Albany, GA; Omaha, NE; Baytown, TX; Miami, FL; Amarillo, TX; Monroe, LA; Manchester, NH; Alexandria, LA; Rapid City, SD; Loudon, TN; Farmington, NM
  • Street View is now available in Ukraine

From other sources:

  • It's James that made me aware that the Google Maps game 'Maps Cube' is available, I couldn't test it yet on the Linux machine in front of me. Here's how James describes it: "Basically you use your mouse to tilt a 3D cube and have a ball travel down the transportation networks (road, trails, subways, etc). Since we in GIS all know about topology in these networks, the game isn’t as hard as you might expect. Still it’s a pretty amazing example of using HTML + WebGL for web mapping." APB also links to a short PC Mag article on the Maps Cube Game.
  • The GEB shares an update on the impressive Data Appeal visualization tool for Google Earth
  • Slashdot also ran the story named Google Releases FCC Report On Street View Probe
  • If you want analysis of Trimble's acquisition of SketchUp from Google, read more from the GEB, from Spatial Sustain,
  • Here's Plymouth, Michigan in 3D
  • And to end with something funny, here's UFO Sightings in Google Earth

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Trimble To Acquire Google SketchUp

This comes as a surprise to many, Slashdot discusses Trimble To Acquire Google SketchUp.

Their summary: "It looks like Google is selling off SketchUp or, conversely, Trimble is acquiring it. Despite several indications there will continue to be a free version of the 3D modelling software, users are unsure about what this will mean for the SketchUp community at large as indicated by the comments on the official Google SketchUp Blog post. They are, however, rejoicing that they will be freed from Groups for SketchUp discussions."

From the Trimble press release: "[...] we are committed to continuing to provide SketchUp as a free version to millions of users."

We of course mentioned tons of times SketchUp, which is a popular tool to generate 3D models. Trimble also found the road to our users quite a few times.

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