Google's Michael Jones likes to take pictures with a super high-resolution camera like those used on spy planes during the Cold War.
His fascination is not to monitor military camps but to shoot photos so detailed he can spot, from miles away, a cosy Japanese noodle shop to have lunch in.
Mr. Jones' obsession is mirrored in his work. He is the chief technology officer of Google Earth, a product used by 100 million people that combines satellite images, maps and local data to display geographical information of the world.
"Seeing your home is usually the first thing people do," said Mr. Jones in an interview in Tokyo.
"As we add more local data, like hotels, there's a second wave of interest from those who want to use this in useful ways, like plan trips."
Google, the world's biggest web search engine, has launched Google Earth in different languages including Japanese, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
"It's not just translating," said Bruno Bowden, a Google Earth engineer who spent the past year preparing the Japanese-language product which was launched this week.
"It takes great effort to license all the local data and figure out how people might want to view it," Mr. Bowden explained.
Mr. Jones said Google is gathering country data to offer more localised editions. He also said the amount of data updated to the Google Earth database is rising.
"It's starting to become, typically, one country a month," said Mr. Jones. In a recent update, Google Earth added high-resolution images of the entire Netherlands, he said.
Mr. Jones was the co-founder of KeyHole, which developed what later became Google Earth. Mountain View, California-based Google bought the company in 2004.
Mr. Jones, who has more than 100 engineers working on his team that also develop Google Maps, said local advertisement can make the geographical data much more useful.
"There are several tens of billions of dollars in revenue available for local advertisement," Mr. Jones said.