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Google Street View: The Internet giant comes to you

News Analysis: Street-level photo project makes for strange sites, privacy worries

By John Brandon
August 21, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Google is coming for you. In fact, Google's minions are driving Chevy Cobalts with roof-mounted 360-degree digital cameras, and they want to take your picture. Smile! You're on Googlecam.

In an unprecedented campaign, Google Inc. is enhancing its Google Maps service with a new Street View feature that allows you to view crisp, navigable photos of roads in nine major cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, New York, San Diego and Denver. (To see the full list, go to maps.google.com and click the Street View link on the upper-right corner.)

Once you zoom in close enough, you can click the Street View link and look around the location, or click an arrow to see the next Street View photo.

To snap the pictures, Google mounted digital cameras on the roof of passenger cars -- reportedly Chevy Cobalts, according to the tech blog Gizmodo -- and drove around San Francisco and San Diego. (You can see the Street View team's inaugural photo below.)

The Street View team took this photo at the launch of the Street View photo mapping campaign.
The Street View team took this photo at the launch of the Street View photo mapping campaign. (Click image to see larger view.)

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company partnered with Immersive Media Co. for the underlying photo technology and has worked with third-party firms for street-level photography for the additional cities outside of California. Only San Francisco and San Diego use high-resolution street-level images, however. Other cities use lower-res captures.

The view over the U.S. shows you a link for Street View. Click it, and you can see which cities are covered -- marked by a camera icon.
The view over the U.S. shows you a link for Street View. Click it, and you can see which cities are covered -- marked by a camera icon. (Click image to see larger view.)


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