SightSpace 3D

Have you ever wanted to take your SketchUp models on the go? Our friends at the Boulder-based start-up, Limitless Computing, have a solution for you: their recently released SightSpace 3D app allows you to view SketchUp models on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod (Android support coming soon).
I gave it a whirl and the viewer is quite good. Orbiting a SketchUp model with single finger, panning with two, and pinching to zoom in and out is very satisfying. Loading models onto your mobile device is easy too; the Google 3D Warehouse is integrated in the app and you can also load models through Dropbox and email.

The 3D Warehouse is integrated into the app making it easy to load models

The mobile viewer would be neat enough, but SightSpace 3D’s killer feature is the Augmented Reality (AR) viewer, which gives you the ability to overlay 3D models onto the physical world. Any geo-located Google SketchUp model can be exported to a KMZ file, placed on an iPad 2 or iPhone 4, and viewed in real-time, in a real place letting you actually walk through the space. As you can imagine, this is useful for previewing construction projects, displaying kitchen designs, urban planning and much more.

An apartment complex is superimposed on undeveloped land, to scale. (Model courtesy of Hilliard Architects, San Francisco, CA)

Additional features include bookmarking views, taking snapshots in both Viewer and AR mode, and the ability to annotate and email notes directly from the app.

Annotations and photos of a model get added directly to an email

SightSpace 3D is available now in the iTunes store now for $15 US, so go download it today.

Google Earth: Remember 9/11

With the 10 year anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks coming up in a few days, we thought we’d look at some ways to use Google Earth to remember those lost in the attacks along with ways to look toward the future.

While Google Earth wasn’t released until nearly four years after the towers fell, a handful of models were built to show the towers as they stood prior to 9/11/01. By loading this KML file , you can see all of the towers that made up the original set of buildings, including the famous WTC 1 and WTC 2 buildings.


You’ll notice that some of the new WTC buildings, still under construction, are already visible in Google Earth. For the purposes of showing the area in a pre-9/11 state, you can right-click those buildings and Hide them. They’ll automatically re-appear next time you start Google Earth.

A more realistic-looking model was created by Patrick Griffin and can be found in the Google 3D Warehouse. His model, seen below, can be viewed by downloading this KML file.


You can also use Google Earth’s Historical Imagery to view images of the twin towers by going back to 1997. The imagery isn’t in color and isn’t very sharp, but clearly shows the towers. You can also view imagery from 9/11/01, and see the smoke and dust as it floats out across the water.


There are also a variety of models that somewhat show how the attack unfolded, but none were particularly compelling. If you search the 3D Warehouse for something like “world trade center attack” you can find a few.

London 3D Project

Jack recently contacted me to let me know about the “London 3D Project”, which I wasn’t previously aware of. They’re a group of users that want to see more 3D buildings in London and rather than complain about it, they’re getting to work! Since they started work in October, the team has constructed well over 100 models, and roughly 80 of them have shown up in Google Earth.

They’re making a point to try to tackle a lot of the “boring” buildings that people otherwise might not model. For example, there are over 200 models of “Big Ben” in the 3D Warehouse, and most of the popular buildings in town have multiple models available. Their effort is focused on filling out the city with all of the models they can find, not just famous buildings.

To learn more about the project, you can visit their website at

You can also check out some of their models in the 3D Warehouse.

A project like this is also a great way to explore a city. Jack mentioned that they’ve come across a variety of interesting architecture and some buildings that they didn’t even know existed. Not only have they discovered these buildings now, but they’re sharing them with the rest of the community. Great work guys!