I’ve mentioned Google photo spheres in a previous post. But I want to touch on them again as the total views for some photo spheres I added to Google maps last year passes 41,000.
Unfortunately the stats aren’t more granular than the view count otherwise I may be able to try and work out who was viewing them. Prospective students checking out Manchester or just the general populace?
Photo spheres aren’t anything too clever. Just the next step along from the photos and panoramas you can contribute to Google Maps already. Most new smartphones allow you to take 360 degree photo spheres with the out-the-box camera app. But one nice feature is that the latest Google Street View app works with Google Cardboard allowing you to take virtual tours around the Google mapped planet via your low-tech VR solution.
Let’s go indoors
One of the developments I do like is taking Google’s Street Views off road. You can now explore inside buildings, up mountains and even along the Inca Trail all under the Street View umbrella. The non-road based Street Views are not a new development having started way back in 2010, but we’re starting to see more interesting uses. In November 2015 The British Museum launched its interactive museum tour allowing you to peruse the museum and artifacts from the comfort of your armchair.
It’s part of Google’s Cultural Institute project in which they’ve been busy working with organisations from across the globe to make cultural assets explorable via digital mediums.
Even our own Manchester City Council is getting in on the custom street view action, having Street View’d (new verb I invented) the Christmas Markets back in November.
In fact as an academic Library we’re behind the curve as colleagues at the University of Sheffield already ‘Street View indoor’d several of their buildings back in 2013. Here is their Information Commons:
Why map indoors?
People are nosy and we like to poke around. But there are practical benefits too. It allows prospective students to get a feel for the environments of their potential Universities. I’ve found it useful for getting the heads-up on a place I’m going for a meeting or conference. It gives you an edge of confidence when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before. Street viewing indoors may also help with wayfinding. Perhaps we could find some clever way to link up the location of a book or group study room with a fly through to ‘take’ you virtually to your destination?
How do I see these indoor maps and photo spheres?
‘See Inside’s and photo spheres are all over Google maps. All you need to do is grab the little orange guy and hover over the map. See insides are orange dots whilst photo spheres are blue:
The option to ‘See inside’ also appears if your top Google search result is related to a building or business which has been Street View’d indoors:
Security concerns have been raised. For example, all these maps indoors and out could help people plan criminal acts. But on the other hand I know from speaking to a Police officer friend they make much use of Street View when planning raids and so forth. I suppose it’s beneficial for everyone!
How do I contribute photos to Google maps?
If you’ve got photos or photo spheres of a place you want to share, first you search for said place in Google maps and then you click the ‘Add a photo’. It takes a few days for Google to approve it before it shows up.
So explore, snap happy and share. Just remember it’s no substitute for the real world. And I wonder, once our drone laws are untangled there could be a move to add another layer to Google’s map – if they criss-cross the country with flying 360 cameras… watch the skies!
- 10 libraries to visit with Google Street View
- How to watch 360 degree YouTube videos with Google Cardboard
- Understand Google Street View
- Can Google Street View Images Predict Household Income?