Google has announced a new “Street View ready” certification standard as it looks to encourage Joe Public to contribute to the company’s gargantuan database of real-world imagery.
The certification will be meted out to 20 new 360-degree cameras that are scheduled to hit the market in 2017. These include offerings from companies such as Samsung, GoPro, Matterport, Sphericam, and Giroptic. By applying a badge of approval to the devices, the internet giant hopes to encourage both amateur and professional photographers to participate in its massive crowdsourced image collection program.
Google’s Street View cars, replete with roof-mounted 360-degree camera, have become famous sights in cities around the world as they capture everything from shop facades and monuments to parks and other public attractions. The program has long transcended its roots on the roads, however, and Google has found itself traversing the Amazon rainforest on a zipline and swimming underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, while machine learning also now enables Street View to automatically extract street names, numbers, and businesses to keep Maps up-to-date.
Google’s ultimate aim with Street View is to capture photos from everywhere on Earth, inside or outside, underwater or high on a mountain. And this is why it needs an army of people on the ground updating its database with immersive images from every corner of the globe. “You can walk, run, bike, drive — even ride a horse — while we do the heavy lifting of connecting each frame of your video into a traditional, interactive Street View experience,” explained Google Street View product manager Charles Armstrong.
Each camera that attains the coveted “Street View ready” badge will meet one of Google’s four new standards, details of which can be found here and which in summary are:
- Street View mobile ready: 360 cameras that can publish Street View directly from a mobile app
- Street View auto ready: 360 cameras built for vehicle-based collection with the highest accuracy
- Street View VR ready: 360 cameras or systems that collect geometry in addition to generating sets of connected 360 photos
- Street View workflow ready: Publishing tools (sometimes bundled with cameras) that can upload to Street View accounts
In addition to the physical cameras, companies will be developing desktop software designed with Street View publication in mind.
Google has for some time offered a Street View-trusted photographer program, through which photographers must publish fifty “approved” 360-degree photos in order to market themselves as “Google Street View trusted.” Many businesses want professional imagery captured for inclusion on Street View and Google Maps, and it is a potentially lucrative industry for creatives.