San Francisco: Google Earth software has been downloaded more than one billion times, and that stellar achievement was marked Wednesday with a website showcasing ways the interactive replica of the planet is used.
OneWorldManyStories.com features 40 real-world tales of how people around the globe have used Google Earth to follow dreams, defend nature, explore distant places, or learn about the planet.
Of course, Google Earth maps let people travel virtually to locales where such stories play out.
"Google Earth is probably one of the most downloaded applications of all time in terms of raw numbers," product manager Peter Birch told.
To provide context, Google Earth and Maps vice president of engineering Brian McClendon pointed out that a billion hours ago humans were living in the Stone Age and that a billion minutes ago the Roman Empire was flourishing.
"We`re proud of our one billion milestone, but we`re even more amazed at the way people have used Google Earth to explore the world," McClendon said.
"When we founded Keyhole, Inc. back in 2001 we never imagined our geospatial technology would be used by people in so many unexpected ways," he continued.
McClendon was a co-founder of startup Keyhole, which Google bought in 2004 and turned into the free online Earth atlas launched in June of the following year.
The service weaves satellite images and aerial photos into 3D interactive graphics which people can zoom into, starting from space and homing in on buildings or plots of land.
Google Earth stories include that of a professor from the University of Western Australia who used it to discover ancient tombs and geoglyphs without leaving Perth.
Professor David Kennedy scrutinized Google Earth recreations of thousands of square kilometers (miles) in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, discerning clues to the whereabouts of archeological treasures.