Earthviewer has been out for a few months, it is some web based software that lets you view color satelite images of the earth, many of them fairly detailed. That is not all that big a deal though. What's cool is they have a new viewer, Earthviewer 3D Nvidia which is a REAL TIME 3D viewer. It's frikin amazing. It lets you view a 3D view of the entire planet and for selected areas, most major cities in the U.S. and also Tokyo you can zoom all the way down until you can see individual cars!
Even cooler, you can bookmark places and tell to jump from one place to the other. So for example I found my apartment here in Tokyo. I can zoom up until the roof of my building fills the entire screen. Then I found my old apartment in Brentwood Los Angeles. I click the bookmark for my Tokyo Apartmant and the camera smoothly pulls back into space flys across the Pacific Ocean and zooms down into Tokyo, into Nakano−ku and over my apartment all in about 15 seconds!
On top of all that it can show you roads superimposed over the images. It can show you businesses like "show me all the Chinese restaurants".
As it's in 3D you can also tilt the camera and have it show you elevation. It only has elevation for terrain, not for buildings but for example the Grand Canyon or Mount St Helens are pretty amazing.
It gets the images off the net so the first time you go to any place, depending on your connection speed and how busy their servers are it can take a few minutes to get all the high detailed images over the net and into your computer. It saves some of them to your hard disc so when you come back later you will may not have to wait.
It's something you can play with for hours. I looked up several places in Tokyo. Odaiba, the Rainbow Bridge, Shinjuku and several of the areas around it. I looked up my old office in Santa Monica, my friend Tom's apartment in Laguna Beach. I found the hotel my family always uses in Oahu. I found second apartment in Baltimore. The old Microprose office net to the swimming pond. My old apartment in Cockeysville. My friend was able to show me his family's house in Pennsylvania. It simply amazing.
There's another which is not as visually interesting but interesting none the less. It's called Flight Explorer and it will show you a map of an area and show you all the airplanes currently in the air in REAL TIME! You can click on a plane and it will tell you like "Delta Flight 234, dest: Boston".
Both of them are also a little scary. I have a GPS phone, it would not be that hard at all to have it tell you exactly where I am in the world at any given moment assuming I was broadcasting my GPS info. I suppose actually, most of the time I might not mind giving out that info, at least to friends but it's still scary. The plane software is also kind of scary. Just a little thought and I can imagination all kinds of not so nice things someone could do with that information.