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Google Maps hack turns any Street View into an urban jungle

A clever Google Maps hack overlays Street View with vines, trees, grass, and other vegetation for an altered view of reality.

Times Square as a jungle
My, Times Square is looking particularly lush today. Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

If you want to see New York as a wilderness area, you can watch the CGI makeover in "I Am Legend," or turn to the Urban Jungle Street View site. Urban Jungle takes advantage of a little-known part of Street View called depth data. This allows the positioning of objects in the correct 3D space, so it really looks like a tree is growing out of the middle of Times Square.

It can be hard to navigate around once you're in the Urban Jungle map because the usual Street View directional cues are absent. Also, everything that might look familiar is covered in vegetation. This is really more about the novelty of slathering Street View locations with greenery. It works best in locations with tall buildings, but feel free try it out on your own house.

The Urban Jungle experiment may not be around for long. Einar Öberg, the site's creator, confesses on Twitter that he's "breaking terms of use like it's no tomorrow." That's mean you had better get in on the jungle-making fun while you still can.

I tried to use the Urban Jungle Street View to navigate into special Street View locations like the Large Hadron Collider and the Earl's Court Tardis, but wasn't able to get it to work. This would be a nifty feature if there is way to enable it. If there is, and I just missed it, then set me right in the comments. I really want to see the Tardis console draped with vines.

(Via Boing Boing)