The Google Code team today have launched a new Chrome Experiment known as the WebGL Globe. Through any WebGL enabled browser, such as Google Chrome or Firefox 4, you can view geographic data on an animated 3D globe that can be manipulated. Through the use of colored bars, it is extremely easy to visualize data for locations around the world.
Google currently has two globes on display, one that shows world population at different time periods, and the other shows search volume with different languages in different colors. It is interesting when comparing the two globes to see the spread of the internet in third-world countries, as places such as China has large population bars but small search volume bars in comparison to places such as the United States. You can also clearly make out the vast deserts and snow in places such as northern Africa, eastern Russia, Australia and northern Canada.
The API is available to anyone who wants to create their own WebGL globe from geographic data, and Google hopes to show more globes on their WebGL Globe website once users submit their creations. However as WebGL isn’t yet a wide adopted standard in all browsers, the globes aren’t particularly useful to have on major websites.
This isn’t the first time that Google has tested the power of WebGL, with Google’s Body browser utilizing the technology to show the human anatomy in browser-rendered 3D.