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Google Businesses The Internet Technology

Sounds Bring Google Earth to Life 84

Strudelkugel writes "The BBC is reporting that a Californian company has created software that can layer relevant recorded sounds over locations in Google Earth. The firm, Wild Sanctuary, has thousands of hours of recordings from all over the world. Company director Dr. Krause has spent over 40 years collecting sounds from natural and man-made habitats. '... his recordings include more than 15,000 animal noises, and sounds from a huge array of habitats, including cities, deserts, mountains and the marine environment. It is the largest library in existence of natural sound, he said. He said the idea would be to zoom-in on a particular area and then have the option to listen to the accompanying sound.'"
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Sounds Bring Google Earth to Life

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  • Neat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:05PM (#19076323)
    No wait, the other thing - annoying.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Just close your eyes, click, listen and guess where you clicked:

      e.g.: click!

      Mooing, oinking, a shrieking chimpanzee, baboon howls, clucking, grunting, snoring....

      The local zoo you say? Nope - Washington DC.
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quaoar ( 614366 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:05PM (#19076327)
    Now when my relatives use Google Earth to find my house, they'll get to listen to me on the can.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      > Now when my relatives use Google Earth to find my house, they'll get to listen to me on the can.

      But at least they'll know the answer to the question "What is the sound of one hand fapping".

      (Google Cat is listening to you masturbate.)

    • Now you get to know what Superman feels like when he flies up in space and hears the sounds of the world. Hundreds of millions of people going to the can. Simultaneously.

      I wonder if he can differentiate between bathroom grunts and bedroom grunts. That'd be interesting to find out, eh?
    • Just wait until the British Government start asking for additions

      NOW, WASH YOUR HANDS!
  • do you hear that? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidMind ( 150126 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:06PM (#19076335)
    the idea sounds nice on paper, but who will actually benefit from this?
    • This guy if he manages to get a nice VC payout. Other than that I can't imagine how this could possibly have a practical use for anyone.
      • This guy if he manages to get a nice VC payout. Other than that I can't imagine how this could possibly have a practical use for anyone.
        ---
        If it was the _real_ background noise it could be useful.

        Hear the different bird chirping for birdwatchers.

        Check the traffic noise if you want to move there.
        Ditto for 7am lawmowers.

        Check how far you have to go from the freeway, railway, industry zone to have your peace.

        etc.
      • by jdray ( 645332 )
        Civ IV has the same sort of thing (dunno about earlier versions), albeit with a fairly limited catalog of sounds. If you zoom in on a city, you get noises relative to the work being done there, but if you zoom in on the ocean, you get wave sounds. I like it. It adds dimensionality to the game that would otherwise be lacking.
    • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:15PM (#19076427) Homepage
      I don't know.... who ever thought that a six-year-old aerial photo of the desert would be practical? But now those Google Earth images are shown on the news as visual aids when they are talking about Iraq or some such. I can see this turning into the equivalent for radio news shows.
      • Re:do you hear that? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @08:00PM (#19076915)
        I could see it being used for a virtual tour of a park, college campus, or business complex. Plot out a route and then follow it along with pictures and sound.

        Seems pretty useful to me. I wish that more public entities would publish their SHP boundaries in KML/KMZ so I wouldn't have to convert them myself [lazylightning.org].

        It could become a real useful tool for the web.
      • Hmn that actually made me think it would be kind of an interesting experience if they could have categories. Others have mentioned animal type sounds... but it would be interesting to link news audio reports or entertainment type events (concerts in the open) to different areas. Not essential by any means but interesting to experiment with...
    • I could see it being useful when looking at a place to live. It would have to be pretty specific, but it's hard to tell looking at a map how far away train tracks/airport/freeways need to be in order not to hear them.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      the idea sounds nice on paper
      Actually, on paper it doesn't make any sound at all; you really need to upgrade to at least a web browser interface to see how it sounds.

      Actually I take that back - it does make a sound on paper; once you think through the implications of the idea it will make the crinkling sound of paper being wadded up and tossed in the trash.
    • by niceone ( 992278 ) *
      Blind people, you insensitive clod!
  • by Solokron ( 198043 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:08PM (#19076345) Homepage
    Slashdot readers including myself may frequent the San Fernando Valley area for those sounds!
  • Weird (Score:5, Funny)

    by OmegaBlac ( 752432 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:13PM (#19076399)
    When I zoomed in over Microsoft's HQ in Redmond, Washington, I heard the sound of chairs being broken. I'm sure if I zoom in over the White House, monkey sounds will fill my speakers.
  • great, now I can get sued just for mousing-over the RIAA headquarters!

    Thanks a lot guys...
  • SWEET!!!!!!!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:21PM (#19076501) Journal
    Now I can finally know what a tree sounds like when it falls and no one is around.
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      Now I can finally know what a tree sounds like when it falls and no one is around.

      Sounds as if eternity was sucked into itself for infinity and back.
  • Hehe (Score:3, Funny)

    by bigred85 ( 1030936 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:23PM (#19076529)

    I'd pay money to zoom over a well-known cattle farm, let's say the King Ranch in Texas for instance, and hear an old, familiar sound:

    "The cow says: MOOOOOOO"

    ...Yes I'm simply amused, what of it?

    • by rts008 ( 812749 )
      As long as you don't zoom in too close- the King Ranch is a HUGE place, you would get miles and miles of MOOOO!...just don't step in any of it!

      Cowchip flingin' championship tourney in progress...details at 11!
  • Did they include *fap*fap*fap*fap*?!
  • I can finally be able to listen to sob gambling stories, hooker sex, and obnoxious casinos in the comfort of my own home!
    • Actually, "hooker sex" isn't allowed here in Vegas. So you won't get to hear it. You still get to hear the gambling stories and obnoxious casinos, though.
    • Sorta off-topic, but I promise it's worth it. There's a funny bit by Lewis Black (I believe it's on the White Album) where he's describing being incredibly astounded by people gambling in Vegas casinos around Christmas while carols are playing over the loudspeakers.

      Granted I'm doing the bit no justice by attempting to explain it, but for some reason it leaves me in stitches every time.

  • To have worked for 40 years on something, to believe in it, and dedicate a life to it, to collect samples of sound, or smell, or taste from across an entire planet, then along comes a tool that makes it easy to share the results with other people, to disperse the cumulative knowledge and experience of a lifetime, only to have some bored slasher dis it off after a click and a couple seconds of listening; I'm hurt just thinking about it.
    • Please... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msimm ( 580077 )
      It's HIS interest. Hopefully if he's truly passionate about it he's got thick skin anyway. The story is about a company trying to sell sound, seems ripe enough for the odd joke. It's like smell-o-vision for the ears.
    • To have worked for 40 years on something, to believe in it, and dedicate a life to it, to collect samples of sound, or smell, or taste from across an entire planet, then along comes a tool that makes it easy to share the results with other people, to disperse the cumulative knowledge and experience of a lifetime, only to have some bored slasher dis it off after a click and a couple seconds of listening; I'm hurt just thinking about it.

      Never mind what you do, there'll be always someone to dismiss it and not
    • by ampathee ( 682788 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @09:20PM (#19077575)
      It's not like he did it all to try to impress slashdotters.
  • Memes (Score:5, Funny)

    by ross.w ( 87751 ) <rwonderley.gmail@com> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#19076665) Journal
    Let's see,

    1. We've done the toilet humour reference.
    2. We've done the Microsoft reference.
    3. We've done the George Bush reference
    .
    .
    4. Oh Yeah... Profit!!!
    • Let's see,

      1. We've done the toilet humour reference.
      2. We've done the Microsoft reference.
      3. We've done the George Bush reference
      .
      .
      4. Oh Yeah... Profit!!!

      Surely 4 is another microsoft reference.
    • In Soviet Russia, Google Earth listens to you.
    • by Nushio ( 951488 )
      Yeah, but can you listen to Doom? How about listening to a Beowulf Cluster?
    • 2. We've done the Microsoft reference.
      But..but...that was a steveb reference! Nobody's claimed this to be the dumbest fucking idea since they've been at Microsoft yet..
  • America is undoubtedly the worst 1st world country when it comes to geography. We have no idea where most of our own states are, think Africa is a country and half the time don't even know what the next town down the road is named. A tool like this attached to Google Earth would help in keeping the interest of children. I think from this perspective it would be a very good teaching tool. One of the reasons I enjoyed History so much in High School was my teacher allowing me to play CivII. Adapting sound
    • America is undoubtedly the worst 1st world country when it comes to geography.
      .....
      A tool like this attached to Google Earth would help in keeping the interest of children.

      A tool like this could also help educate sound guys working on Hollywood movies. I've lost count of the number of movies set in jungles in Asia, Africa or South America where you suddenly hear kookaburras whip birds and bell birds. For all you geographically and/or ornithologically challenged types out there, that's a bit like using the

    • Maybe it's just me here, but I live in the UK and I doubt I could name the shires in just England let alone Scotland and Wales. The United states of America are 50 times the size of the UK and is basicly 50 different countries all roughly pushed together, how you can remember the names of all 50 states when you're working on such a scale?

      Sooner or later you have to realize people aren't these magic computers who know everything and desire to. For a kid who never goes much further than 1 or 2 states over to
      • by antic ( 29198 )
        There is a TV show in Australia that sent someone out in the US convincing Americans that various well known attractions (Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, etc) were actually in Australia. The number of people who bought it all was quite amusing/scary.

        Previously, they had walked around with an incorrectly labeled map showing South Korea as Tasmania, North Korea as Australia and so on - many of the Americans questioned about it barely blinked; "Wow, I never knew North Korea was so much bigge
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alexgieg ( 948359 )
      It's interesting to note that the word "school" comes from the ancient Greek word "schole", meaning "leisure". The idea back then was simple, and all but forgot nowadays: that people only actually learn those subjects they're interested in.

      If the school system was made such that, past the very basic knowledge needed for socially functioning, children were able to deepen only on that which they show interest and have talent, the whole experience would be way more rewarding for all those involved. If later in
  • by gobbo ( 567674 ) <{wrewrite} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:39PM (#19076691) Journal

    This sounds like a natural fit with the original vision of the World Soundscape Project [www.sfu.ca], especially since these are ambient field recordings. Too bad they ran short of funding and the momentum faded, I think they would have taken it somewhere like this. I like the fact that they're hoping to showcase changing soundscapes over time. It would be great if the GE community can contribute. If this stuff interests you, check out the literature on acoustic ecology [uoregon.edu].

    • What could further G-E along these lines is to implement sounds in a spatial (3-D) fashion. That is, have the sounds fade-in or -out (seeming as if they are approaching/receding) while you're travelling across the landscape... blending together across regions, much in the way the sat-photos do.

      Along with the "cruise" function, I would bring it into the African savannah and just let it roll along, or the South American rainforests; absorb the natural ambience and listen as the sound just flows in and out.

  • Perhaps they could join forces with Wikipedia. I could see that as a potential boon for primary school kids in doing geography.
    Research a location on Wikipedia with a link to Google Earth for a look see and a hint of what it would be like to be there.
    Or perhaps research on Orangutans with a link to a map of their native habitat and listen to what they sound like. Many kids have a a wonderful imagination. This could help expand it and their knowledge.

    I'm not sure about the man made sounds though, can't reall
  • ...the sounds will be live, the way we're headed...
  • It's no "Smell-O-Vision" but I guess it will do.

    Seriously, how can you not see(read:hear) this as sorta cool? I'm as jaded and cynical as the next guy, but I'm intrigued. Scrolling over various areas of the planet and hear the roar of Victoria Falls, the vibrant din of the rainforest, the grating cacophony of a busy metropolitan street, the ominous bells of Big Ben tolling the hour, and numerous other possibilities.

    Think of the kids!
    • "Think of the kids!" seems to be what people say when they are really excited about something fun, but aren't sure if they're too old to enjoy it on their own.... Lets build a big elaborate fort in the back yard!....for the kids..... Lets have fun making our computer make neat noises!... ummm... to entice kids to learn more....
  • by Stevecrox ( 962208 ) on Thursday May 10, 2007 @07:59PM (#19076907) Journal
    I remember when I was younger microsoft released an encylopedia for kids, when ever you looked up an animal the noise it made would play (there was a button to make it replay.) It was something that did keep me entertained for hours, just going through all the different entries.

    Someone else has mentioned Wikipedia, would this not be a great extension to that? Primary school teachers could access certain pages/places and play appropirate sounds. Since it seems the type of kids encylopedia cdrom that I played with as a child has been replaced by wikipedia, wouldn't it be great if wikipedia took on the two great things about those?

    Encarta and "Encylopedia for kids" (by Microsoft) would often have short video sequences or sound clips to go with the articles. It was one of the best ways to gain an understanding of a process at times. Sure some pages might be quite dodgey if it was implimented but the wildlife,manufacturing,car/motorcycle history,science and engineering pages could be significantly enhanced by this sort of feature.

    I'm aware of wikimedia, but why hasn't the main wikipedia design be altered to do these things already?
    • Great, then we'll have sound clips of "FUCK YOU!" sprouting up all over Wikipedia. ;-)

      On a more serious note, there are many problems with this idea. First and foremost, open sound recordings are few-and-far-between ("let's take pictures" but not "let's bring an audio-recorder to hear an elephant roar!") Then, there's the trouble of Wikimedia insisting on using a free media formats (namely Ogg) which have poor native support (you can't expect teachers to know how to download codecs, heh?) and a buggy/slow/e
  • Company director Dr. Krause has spent over 40 years collecting sounds
     
    First, I'd like to congratulate the good Dr on his foresight to begin collection 40 years ago. However, no matter what he's charging for this service a 40 year up front investment is a staggeringly risky move.
     
    Note to the humor impaired: the above is an attempt at a business joke.
  • In contrast to all the negative comments I like to say that it is a great idea. Sound has an immediate and very powerful impact of the viewer. Just try to watch and action movie without sounds and the film will look very dumb. Sound is a far more than just added sound. It can really place you in the area you are viewing.

    Imagine looking at mount Everest and hear the wind howling around it's peaks. Or looking at Manhattan New York and hear the hustle and bustle of the city noise grow stronger and more defined
    • I agree. I remember the first few times I played Doom, I had no sound card. The game play was great, I remember being amazed. However once I installed a sound card, the entire game roared to life. I was totally immersed in the shotgun blasts and grunts of maimed beasts. Sound made the game real.
  • You mean there's more than just the Puget!?!?!
  • Put this together with the virtual bicycle and you've got one nice Excertainment system! http://www.virtualbicycle.com/ [virtualbicycle.com]
  • Just like the sounds in Sim City. Scroll over empty space - nothing. Over the city - cars and car horns.
  • But what would really be fun would be to tie in real-time sounds from such things as the gunshot camerals in LA, for example: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/12/01/23 2248 [slashdot.org], or maybe the mics from surveilance cameras in London: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/25/05 4246 [slashdot.org].
    • by jamshid ( 140925 )
      Yeah, and Google could develop some voice id'ing software that constantly monitors the surveillance mics. Since your address book will contain a voice id of your friends, you could query google to find where a friend is, or at least where someone that sounds like your friend is talking.

      I think that if time travel were possible, we'd already have had a someone from the future appear, bringing us the message "you must stop google".
  • Well that's funny. I was just mousing over Miskatonic University and I heard a weird chanting sound like "Ia Ia Yog-Sothoth Fhtagn" followed by a flapping wings soun... R*@(*@(*@E@*... ^H^H^H carrier lost
  • The creative commons site Freesound also tags sound to map locations, but it does so with Google Maps, not Earth. Here is a link from near my home:

    http://freesound.iua.upf.edu/geotagsView.php?lon=- 123.759596943855&lat=48.3681998651109&zoom=16 [upf.edu]

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