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
Povilas SMar 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.
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.
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.