Facebook PixelAn app that shows you what places you'd come across if traveling further in the direction you're now facing
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An app that shows you what places you'd come across if traveling further in the direction you're now facing

Image credit: Google earth

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Povilas S
Povilas S Mar 31, 2022
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An app that uses gyroscopic as well as geolocation data to determine the exact spot you're at and the side you're facing (with a very precise angle) and shows you places that are located further in that direction.
You could see places located at a short-range (around the same neighborhood, city, etc.), medium-range (next cities, countries), or even take a whole "trip around the world" in that direction.
Why?
Entertainment. I imagine this would be especially interesting when standing atop some panoramic tower where you could walk around 360 degrees, a mountain, etc. But you could as well do it just from your bedroom or whatever place you're at.
Education. Discover new places around the world in a gamified way, read interesting facts about them, etc.
Better spatial orientation. Perhaps most people can at least approximately tell the main cardinal directions (where is the north, where is the south, etc.) and that is only given they are in a familiar place, like their hometown. But if you were, say, in the city center and someone asked you to show to which side is a certain, suburban neighborhood, most would have difficulties doing that. Not to mention showing to which side is Australia or the Eiffel tower. The curvature of the Earth also adds up to distorting your understanding of directions when large distances are involved.
With a proposed function you could always check what places are in what direction, no matter where you are and, I believe, doing this often would lead to your mind slowly painting an accurate directional map that would stay in your memory even when not using the app.
How it works:
This could be a separate app or an extension of google earth. You open the app, it detects your current location and the side towards which the phone you're holding is facing. It shows a map, a dot (you), and an arrow stretching towards that direction. You can zoom in and out of the map as much as you want, the arrow is then stretched/shrunk accordingly (if you zoom out to see the whole globe the arrow is stretched to the end of the visible part of the globe). When you turn, the arrow turns on the map.
Whenever you want you can choose to enter "tunnel vision". This will show you stiched street view shots available in that direction. Here's how a "trip around the world" from Vilnius would approximately look like:




















There are, of course, way more street view images that could be displayed on the way. The street view images would be shown in a movie-like succession. You could choose the speed at which the images would shift, speed it up, slow it down, pause it in the process.
Perhaps the best would be to split the screen into two parts with one side showing a map displayed from above with an arrow indicating the direction and the tip of the arrow indicating the location seen in the street view image, like this:
If you zoomed out on the left, the picture "slide show" would then make bigger jumps between places, if you zoomed in, it would show street view images that are geographically closer to each other, and, perhaps, shift between them faster.
Street view images are limiting, because they're taken mostly in cities, you can't see the views in the wilderness and it would be boring to always see the view from the side of the road. So it would be best if pictures taken by people in various locations (as now available on google earth) would also be used.
The problem here is that there is currently no way (as far as I know) of defining the precise gyroscopic angle at which the shot was taken, so if the proposed software became popular enough, each picture you take with a smartphone or even any photo camera could have a gyroscopic mark indicating the precise angle it was taken regarding the cardinal directions.
The software could then use various images uploaded by people around the world to stitch the directional slide show together. Various unidirectional videos with gyroscopic marks could also be used, e.g. those taken by drones, from a moving car, etc.
If you were in a building and pressed the "tunnel vision" mode, the app could show you a predefined animation of swiftly shifting through building walls (the same animation would be shown disregarding what building you are in) and then the first street view image available after the outside facing building wall.
When tunneling through mountains, it could show some animation like digging through cliffs, when going through forests - fast-shifting trees, etc. This would make the whole experience more interesting and more movie-like.
I imagine such a feature would combine perfectly with VR.
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Creative contributions

A filter for slide show images

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Povilas S
Povilas S Apr 01, 2022
Instead of showing you each street view image available in that direction, the software could show you only interesting images, if you chose so. By interesting, I mean, for example, central squares of cities and towns you'd cross traveling in that direction, or you could choose a "nature shots" filter, and the software would show you images from the most beautiful nature places that lie in the way of your directional arrow. AI could judge which images are beautiful and more interesting for people to see and show only them.
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General comments

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J. Nikola
J. Nikola6 months ago
This idea is close to this idea from Darko Savic and has relatively similar problems. One of them is pretty the same as the "bumping to each other too often" and is bumping to too many targets while facing one direction. From the current speed of the Maps upload when you scroll through it, I assume the first problem would be to handle that much data. There are millions of streets that software should roam and present to you at the same time, no matter the distance of the arrow. Another problem is that a slight movement of the phone or your body (change of angle) could cause millions of photos to be uploaded again (and again). All of this sounds like a serious computing problem, reducing the smoothness of the "game".
A piece of advice could be to fix one angle and then discover some most popular places in that direction, but roaming freely in that direction is just too many megabytes to be uploaded at once (especially if pictures are presented).
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Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
J. Nikola Yes, the idea is related to Darko Savic's idea about unidirectional "bumping" and is partially inspired by it. I forget to mention this in the text at first and didn't add it later since the text is already pretty long.
And yes, you raise a relevant problem about data processing, I was thinking about that too. But not from the perspective that you described. The idea is for the software to display you a succession of street view images (or ordinary photos taken at that precise angle) only when you'd choose to enter the "tunnel vision" mode. Then your direction would become fixed and you'd see a slideshow of photographs as the software would "advance" geographically in that direction.
If you didn't enter the "tunnel vision" mode the software would only show you a map from above and an arrow representing the direction towards which you are turning, the arrow would turn on the map as you turn, you could zoom in and out of the map and the arrow would shrink/stretch accordingly. In this ordinary mode maybe the software could occasionally display you a few random street view images from that direction, just to make it more interesting, not more.
So the data processing issue that I thought about is the picture slide show of the "tunnel vision" mode since the software would have to not only process many images to show you, it would have to select the right angle of each street view which would align with the direction you were facing before entering the tunnel vision mode. However, the grouping of street view and other images in each possible gyroscopic angle could be done as a phase of software preparation, it wouldn't have to be done "live".
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola6 months ago
Povilas S Okay, I think your solutions could work. And for the tunnel vision feature, I think it would be great even if it showed four (N, W, E, S) or eight orientations (+NW, NE, SW, SE) for now until the gyroscope data becomes available.
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Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
J. Nikola Having just four or eight directions would be limiting, therefore a bit boring. The main point of the idea is the freedom for the user to choose any direction they want with high precision. Of course, it would be better than nothing to have at least a few directions to choose from, but I think for starters the software could simply use google street view images grouped in advance according to the gyroscopic angle. This doesn't seem like too hard of a task for software to do.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
J. Nikola and Povilas S, this solves the above-mentioned dilemma.


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