RALEIGH, N.C. – Google Inc (GOOG) is bringing the world of online video and map-making closer together by allowing users of its Google Earth software to watch and hear YouTube videos mapped to specific locations.
Google is offering a new YouTube video overlay on top of its Google Earth three-dimensional visualization software, which combines satellite images, maps, terrain and buildings of the world.
By allowing YouTube creators to geographically locate their videos on a map of the world, Google enables Internet users to zoom in on locations around the planet and watch YouTube tied to that place.
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For example, travelers to Maui might find videos of surfing, snorkeling or exotic fish, while virtual visitors to Chamonix-Mont Blanc can watch mountaintop ski videos in the Alps.
Google Earth users can already view user-contributed photos uploaded to Panoramio, a photo-mapping service Google acquired in May.
In the case of YouTube videos, video creators assign geographical information to their works — a process also known as "geo-tagging" — as they upload them to the site.
Google Earth users can watch but not geo-tag videos, a Google spokeswoman said.
Virtual Earth from Microsoft Corp (MSFT) and Yahoo Maps from Yahoo Inc (YHOO) already offer the ability for users to annotate maps with links to Web sites, photos and videos.
But by allowing YouTube creators to tag their videos as they upload them, Google Earth could accelerate the move to tie together maps with online videos.
In under two years, YouTube has emerged to become the world's dominant video-sharing site.
Similarly, Yahoo's popular photo-sharing site Flickr.com counts more than 28 million geo-tagged photos since it introduced a mapping feature more than a year ago.
The company recommends users download the latest version of Google Earth, a software application that users must install on their computers.
More details on mapping YouTube videos can be found in a company blog post at: http://tinyurl.com/3ygojz/.