Google has launched its first user-generated version of Street View, which maps geolocated images in a 3D space and allows for virtual walk-throughs with impressive imagery.
As reported over on GigaOM
,the new layer allows users to upload two-dimensional photographs and place them within a three-dimensional space - creating a 3D panorama of the area with far higher resolution and quality than that available from the standard Street View service.
The idea isn't new: back in 2006 Microsoft unveiled its Silverlight-based 2D-to-3D photo manipulation system Photosynth
, which works in much the same way: taking images uploaded by individuals and placing them within a collaborative space to create a fully immersive - if slightly herky-jerky - 3D panorama.
Unlike Photosynth, however, Google's version is platform dependent - using Adobe's Flash, it allows pretty much any system to contribute to and browse the collection of geolocated images.
The service is live right now, although you'll only see it in areas which have images uploaded. One such location is the Plaza Orologio
in Prague: by choosing the User Images icon in the top-right corner, the uploaded pictures will appear. While the effect isn't completely smooth - with images not quite lining up due to the different lenses in use, and each image taken at different times of day and in different weather - it's a neat effect, and certainly improves on the image quality provided by the standard Street View.
While the service is entirely user driven, with Google merely providing the tools to place the images on an overlay on top of its existing Street View imagery, the boost in quality is unlikely to please privacy campaigners
- especially as unlike Street View individuals' faces are not
blurred, with each photograph being provided exactly as the individual photographer uploaded it.
Do you see the feature as offering a fascinating glimpse into places you're unlikely to ever go, or are you concerned about the privacy implications of using high-quality un-redacted imagery such as this? Let us know in the forums