Peter Birch, Google Earth product manager, took the stage to demonstrate how Google has worked to make its 3D maps more realistic and showed how users can navigate through a 3D cityscape while detailed buildings remained accurately to scale.
He also announced that 3D maps will be coming to both Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.
NEW AND IMPROVED 3D MAPS:
"What we're doing is using automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images," said Birch, according to CNET's live blog from the event.
According to Engadget's live blog, Google has been using its own planes to help create its maps.
He also debuted a new user interface called Tour Guide, which lets the user tour 3D landscapes in Google Earth and suggests lists of attractions that the user might be interested in visiting in that location.
3D MAPS TOUR GUIDE: [via Business Insider]
Rita Chen, product manager for Google Maps, also took the stage to announce that Google Maps will soon be available offline for Android devices. This means that if you're in an area without an internet connection, like inside a subway tunnel, you'll be able to save a map on your Android device and zoom in and out as you navigate. (Previously, maps saved on the device would become blurry as the user adjusted the zoom levels without an internet connection.)
Luc Vincent, Engineering Director of Street View, also showed off a new mapping device that can be worn like a backpack. The new device will help Google map new areas that the Google Cars, bikes and other vehicles can't reach.
VINCENT WEARING THE NEW MAPPING EQUIPMENT:
UPDATE: Google has added a video explaining how it built its new 3D maps. Check it out (below), courtesy of the Google Blog.