My Tracks + Nexus One + Google Earth


I just found a great new application in the Android Marketplace: My Tracks (QR Code Below)  Essentially, it takes your Android phone and converts it to a GPS data logger.  You can use it to analyze your running patterns or you can simply export the raw data to Google Docs, Google Maps, Twitter & Email (via Google Maps) or simply export the raw data as a KML or GPX file.  For this experiment, I used the GPX export option.  I took my usual hour long walk and used My Tracks to record my path. The application itself is intuitive.  Simply open the application and wait for a GPS signal.  Once it is established, hit the record button and then put the phone to sleep.  It will keep recording data as a background process while you take your walk, run, flight, etc.  When you're done, simply re-enter the application and hit stop.  You should probably give the track file a useful name.  After a few uses, it will be hard to tell "track23.gpx" from "track17.gpx."  From there, you can export the data using the methods described above.  We want to save the track as a GPX file an import it to Google Earth.

In Finder (or Explore for you Windows folks...) open your Android device and grab the GPX file.  Drag it to the 3d view of Google Earth and voila - your track is open.  Use the following tools below to control the animation:

This control offers basic Play functionality.  It is visible above the Layers panel when you have a PATH selected in the Places panel.  Long story short - just click play.

The control below is visible in the top left portion of the 3D view.  You can use it to select a given point in time as well as to crop the start/stop points of a path.

The control below is visible at the bottom left portion of the 3D view.  It is used to start/stop/loop/save animations.  (This does NOT save video clips.  More on that later)

Lastly, the settings used in the animation are as follows (click to enlarge)


Other Notes:

  • The animation was captured with iShowU HD.  I love this program and think it is one of the best OS X screen capture programs on the market.  The video was captured as an intermediate file format and re compressed using Quick Time Pro.  From there, it was uploaded to Vimeo as a 720P HD video file.
  • Turning off 3d Buildings seems to speed things up...but it looks boring
  • Turn off other interesting layers that Google Earth has on by default.  They just become a distraction in the final video
  • When importing the data, have it stick the data points to the ground for best results
  • The data points are jagged.  I haven't found a good way to smooth them out but decreasing the sample frequency or increasing your speed should help.
  • Downtown areas do not work well for GPS accuracy

Get My Tracks: