I recently found I could use WebLVC as helpful tool in the process of building a terrain database. I have been developing a terrain database for use in our VR-Forces and VR-Vantage demos at I/ITSEC. A good portion of that work involves populating the terrain with feature details such as trees, streetlights, fire hydrants, etc. On a given street corner, I need to make a number of decisions about what features to add to the terrain. Is there an office building there and how tall should it be? How many trees are planted out in front of the building? Is there a streetlight on this corner? Given that I start out with 1 meter/pixel satellite imagery, I simply don’t have that information available.
It turns out that Google Earth has the detailed information I need in its Street View mode. In Google Earth I can fly to a particular street corner, and if Street View data is available at that location, I can get a photographic panorama of the terrain at that location. Now I just need to fly around to the correct location in Google Earth, look at the buildings and vegetation, and compare it with a view of the same location of the terrain I’m building in VR-Vantage. I have a way to see the actual terrain detail from Street View, and let it inform me as to where to create those details in the terrain I’m building.
So where does WebLVC come in? With a few minor modifications to the WebLVC 3D Viewer app, I can easily synchronize those views, flying from location to location in VR-Vantage to examine my terrain and compare it to the real-world detail in Google Earth Street View. The WebLVC 3D Viewer application provides a Google Earth view, and has the ability to listen for and attach its viewpoint to simulated entities. In this case, the simulated entity is the published VR-Vantage observer. With VR-Vantage running, I open a web browser, specifying the WebLVC 3D Viewer URL. I then attached to the VR-Vantage observer entity, and now the viewpoints are sync’d. Synchronizing the views this way saves a considerable amount of time, compared to manually flying around in Google Earth, trying to match the location and orientation of the observer viewpoint in VR-Vantage.