Depth Maps Hidden in Google Street View Create Flickering Ghost-Cities

By Geoff Manaugh on at

This is awesome: Patricio Gonzalez Vivo found a way to scrape Google Street View for its depth map data, then rebuilt the streets as ghostly spatial models in openFrameworks.

The weird and flickering results, seen in the video above, are like a holograph dreaming of electric streets, with facades and sidewalks tuning in and out as if being tuned on shortwave radio.

As Gonzalez Vivo explains in the comments below this video on the Vimeo page—responding to well-known digital artist and activist coder Kyle McDonald enquiring how he obtained the data: "a depth image is base64 encoded (a zlib compressed) on the xml request," to which Aaron Meyers replies: "cuh-cuh-crazy that this data has been lurking in there all along!".

Some screen-grabs illustrate the process. Let the reverse-engineered digital city-building begin! [Vimeo]