Google Crowdsources 3-D Tours

Mark Wilson profiles Google Maps' new feature - Photo Tours - which combs the Internet to provide 3-D tours of popular locations around the world.
May 8, 2012, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Stitching together publicly available geotagged photos from sites such as Panoramio and Picasa, Google's advanced algorithm and state-of-the-art computer vision techniques produces pre-rendered 3-D animations of locations around the world, from the Coliseum to the Statue of Liberty. "The result is the view of a place from the hive mind, a collective map created from our inner auteurs."

While the feature is fairly new, its potential has Wilson buoyant with anticipation:

"As of now, the feature is clearly in its infancy. The tours are pre-rendered animations that can't be explored at-will like Street View, and just a few spots are available, as Google is manually tweaking its new crowdsourcing algorithms as it goes. But let's fast forward just a few years. As all of our pictures become geotagged by our smartphones, and as we only share more and more to the cloud, Google could combine the perspectives of, not just everyone at a single tourist destination, but everyone everywhere on the planet. They could assemble trillions of images from billions of people to create an interactive map of, not just our streets, but every inch of the entire globe."

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Published on Monday, May 7, 2012 in Fast Company Co:Design
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