Einar Öberg, Technical Director at North Kingdom put together a lovely experiment that generatively adds trees, ferns and other jungle-like matter to Google Street View. What’s particularly nice about it is that the effect has appropriate depth – vegetation scales back toward the horizon as if it were in the photo all along, and of course you can move and pan around. He explains the technique himself:
This experiment using an undocumented part of Street View, the depth data. With that a depth map and a normal map is generated, which can be used in the shaders and to plot geometry and sprites in (almost) the correct position in 3d space.
Considered alongside Hyperlapse and Little Planet, Street View has become one of the most fun and interesting corners of the web to explore and hack. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
UPDATE: Here’s a writeup by Einar himself on the technical details.