released Building Maker, which takes an almost game-like approach to crowdsourcing the production of these 3D buildings. Users simply pick a building in any of the 50 cities worldwide where this project is currently active, pick a building you would like to model, and Google will present you with aerial images of this building. All the user has to do is align a 3D wireframe model of the building with these images and a textured 3D model of the building is automatically saved in the Google Sketchup 3D warehouse. Once approved, the model will be added to Google Earth's building layer.For some locations, Google already shows 3D buildings in Google Earth though it wasn't very easy for users to add their own buildings to these maps. Today, however, Google
Just yesterday, we wrote about how Google is starting to crowdsource more of its map making process and this is clearly yet another step in this direction. Google Sketchup made making new buildings for Google Earth pretty easy, but the new Building Maker, which is completely browser-based an makes use of the Google Earth browser plugin, takes this to a completely new level. To test the product out, we just picked a random building and the new model was ready in less than 5 minutes.
Once you have created your model, it has to go through an approval process and, if accepted, will be added to Google Earth. Sadly, there is no way to see if another model of the same building already exists except for loading up Google Earth, but even then, you can't be sure that somebody else's model isn't already waiting for approval.
Overall, this looks like a very smart way for Google to enhance the 3D experience in Google Earth and it will be interesting to see if Google will also build more services on top of these 3D-rendered cities at a later point.
It also shows that Google has access to a vast repository of aerial photography of all of these locations. Microsoft's Bing Maps highlights this feature in its bird's eye mode, but Google doesn't surface any of these images yet.