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Google Street View is a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world. It was launched in 2007 in several cities in the United States, and has since expanded to include cities and rural areas worldwide. Streets with Street View imagery available are shown as blue lines on Google Maps.

Google Street View displays panoramas of stitched images. Most photography is done by car, but some is done by tricycle.

Google Street View also has Railway Views for the Singapore MRT which was already launched in January 2013. The Building Views, which covers the schools; also launched and updated every year.

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History and features Edit

Street View had its origins in 2001 with The Stanford CityBlock Project, a Google-sponsored Stanford University research project. The project ended in June 2006, and its technology was folded into StreetView.[1]

  • 2007: Launched on 25 May in the United States using Immersive Media technology.
  • 2008: In May Google announces that it was testing face-blurring technology on its photos of the busy streets of Manhattan.[2] The technology uses a computer algorithm to search Google's image database for faces and blurs them.[3] Street View integrated into Google Earth 4.3, the Maps application on the Apple iPhone, and the Maps application for S60 3rd Edition. In November "pegman" is introduced. If this is dropped on the map the Street View opens and takes over the whole map window.
  • 2009: Introduction of full-screen option. Smart Navigation introduced allowing users to navigate around the panoramas by double-clicking with their cursor on any place or object they want to see.[4]
  • 2010: Indoor views of businesses available.[5] Google invites users to contribute panoramas of their own using gadgets with Android 4.2. Google highlights user-contributed panoramas with blue circle icons on Maps. The company also created a website to highlight places in the world where one can find them.[6]
  • 2013: Business interior views are shown as small orange circles. Businesses such as shops, cafes and other premises can pay a photographer to take panoramic images of the interior of their premises which are then included in Street View.[7] Google sets up program to let third parties borrow the Street View Trekker (a backpack mounted camera) and contribute imagery to Google Maps.[8]
  • 2014: Street-level imagery from the past can now be seen. If available for a given street view.[9] This is only available where Google has imaged a street more than once.

ImplementationEdit

Street View is available as a component of Google Maps as a web application, and as a mobile application for Android and iOS. Like many Google web applications, Google Maps and Street View makes extensive use of JavaScript, and a rich JS API is available.[10] Until 2013, with the introduction of the new Google Maps, the "Classic" version, as its now called, used Adobe Flash and had a Flash API, which is now deprecated. It's possible to switch back to the old version of Google Maps and Street View temporarily of permanently.[11]

Data capturing equipmentEdit

  • Cameras: Street View imagery has come from several generations of camera systems developed in-house.[12] The cameras contain no mechanical parts, including the shutter, instead using CMOS sensors and an electronic rolling shutter. Widely-deployed versions are:
    • R2: the earliest photos were captured with a ring of eight 11-megapixel CCD sensors with commercial photographic wide-angle lenses.
    • R5: uses a ring of eight 5-megapixel CMOS sensors with custom low-flare lenses, plus a fisheye lens on top to capture upper levels of buildings.
    • R7: uses 15 of the same sensors and lenses as R5, but no fish-eye.
  • Positioning: recorded photographs must be associated with accurate positioning. This is done via a Global Positioning System, wheel speed sensor, and inertial navigation sensor data.[12]
  • Laser range scanners from Sick AG for the measuring of up to 50 meters 180° in the front of the vehicle.[13] These are used for recording the actual dimensions of the space being photographed.
  • Vehicles: data recording equipment is usually mounted on the roof of a car. A Trike (tricycle) was developed to record pedestrian routes including Stonehenge, and other UNESCO World Heritage sites. In 2010 a snowmobile-based system captured the 2010 Winter Olympics sites.[12] Trolleys have been used to shoot the insides of museums, and in Venice the narrow roads were photographed with backpack-mounted cameras, and canals were photographed from boats.[14]

Camera quality comparisonEdit

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New high resolution (HD) photo (used from April 2008 – present)
Prior low resolution photo (used from April 2007 – September 2010) New high resolution (HD) photo (used from April 2008 – present)

Google has used three types of car-mounted cameras to take Street View photographs. Generations 1–3 were used to take photographs in the United States. The shadows caused by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation cameras are occasionally viewable in images taken in mornings and evenings. The first generation was superseded and images were replaced with images taken with 2nd and 3rd generation cameras. Second generation cameras were used to take photographs in Australia. The new 4th generation cameras will be used to completely replace all images taken with earlier generation cameras. 4th generation cameras take near-HD images and deliver much better quality than earlier cameras. Even though 4th generation cameras were in use as early as April 2008, Google used older cameras for many areas as late as October 2009 for Street View and as late as September 2010 for Museum View.

The above shows a comparison of different generations of the Street View cameras. The first image was taken with the 2nd generation Street View camera and the second image was taken with the 4th generation camera. The 4th generation camera provides clearer, sharper, and more vivid images than its predecessors. In most of Europe, for example, images were taken with the 4th generation camera as they were taken later. Images taken with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation cameras are gradually being phased out and replaced by images taken with 4th generation cameras. Eventually, all low resolution images will be replaced with HD images.


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