Google Goes 3-D

Next time you're searching for an apartment you might be able to do it nekkid.

That is, if you're using Google's new Building Maker - a free, browser-based application that is a cross between the maps of Google Earth and advanced 3-D visualization tools.

Google's goal is to create a 3-D representation of every building, in every city, across our planet ... including your next apartment building. Imagine how much easier it could make apartment hunting. Here's how it works:

Google opened its massive mapping and GPS photography vault to users around the world. Volunteers choose a city and hone in on the building they'd like to "virtually" build. Using Google's free, proprietary tools, the volunteer creates a three-dimensional shape representing a the building. The volunteer maps the photography to the shape so that it's possible to navigate the building in 3-D. Then, the volunteer tags the building with identifying information, facts, and other trivia. It's passed to Google for approval and then published so that users worldwide can see it.

This could save an incredible amount of time in your next apartment search, especially if you're moving to another city.

First, you'd be able to virtually walk around the building and get a sense of its proximity to other buildings. This would be particularly helpful if you don't have a sense of the geographic layout of the neighborhood or city.

"[It's] the first step for hungry renters striving for a new diet of overview, access, transparency, satisfaction," says Hannes Krarup, a licensed real estate agent at Citi-Habitats in New York City.

What if Google Buildings and Walk Score were integrated into every apartment listing? Suddenly, you could evaluate a potential property and its proximity to amenities highlighted by Walkscore. You could literally walk the path without leaving your current apartment. Add in real-person reviews, photos, and other media concerning nearby restaurants, bars, and cultural landmarks (via Yelp or similar) and you'd be able to evaluate the livability and monetary worth of your next apartment with stunning clarity.

Heck, do it at midnight and in the nude!

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