When I first used google maps I was utterly speechless at the smooth way they could present the incredible amount of data that the system held. Well, they’ve done it again – in spades!
There are plenty of blog posts talking about it, but the instructions found at googlemapsmania are simple and easy:
head over to Google Maps, center the map on the US and click “Street View”. Click a city with a camera marker and zoom in to have a play.
Once you’re there, click anywhere on a blue outlined street and suspend all disbelief… this is a ‘virtual tour’ on a scale no-one has even dared dream about. For a quick way in, try this view of the
Golden Gate bridge (thanks Jeff), which Product Manager, Stephen Chau rates as his favourite.
The big question is HOW? This is a lot of work, in anyone’s language, so how have they done it? Not hard to see that the images are taken in sequence, about 25m apart, and there are reflections that suggest some sort of plastic bubble – probably mounted on top of a car. I would have expected this to be done with a one-shot pano camera, but some images show signs of being stitched (though maybe it’s those reflections again). I’m assuming they are located using geocodes, so that’s probably automated into the exif data… incredible stuff!
Another aspect which should not be overlooked, is that the ‘Link to this page’ link works as you’d hope (better than you’d expect!). It takes you to the map, the location, the view and the zoom level – all in one hit. Business is going to love this!
Just imagine what implications this has if they release some API hooks for the pano viewer!