Google Street View has unveiled a new tool that will let users build their own Street View image collections from their own photographs.
The new "Create Your Own Street View" capability was announced by Evan Rapoport, product manager for Google Maps and Photo Sphere, in a Dec. 9 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
"Have you ever tried to convey the feeling of walking through your favorite park?" wrote Rapoport. "Or have you wanted to create a virtual tour of your business to attract customers? Well, starting today, it's now possible for you to build your own Street View experiences to do just that. Using a new feature in our Views community, you can easily connect your photo spheres to create 360-degree virtual tours of the places you love, then share them with the world on Google Maps."
The new tool essentially allows users to select their own images, which are then assembled so that they look like "constellations" of images. The next step is to use the new Street View tool to bring the project together, wrote Rapoport. Users can even connect their own photos to Google's own Street View panoramas, he wrote.
Users can capture their images with an Android phone or digital SLR camera, and then share them on Google Views. "Once your photo spheres are connected and published, people can navigate between them on Google Maps, just like they can in Street View," wrote Rapoport.
"We are excited to see the different types of Street View experiences that everyone will contribute," he wrote. "For example, this feature can now enable environmental nonprofits to document and promote the beautiful places they strive to protect. It also opens up a new tool for photographers to showcase diversity in a specific location—by times of day, weather conditions or cultural events—in a way that Street View currently doesn't cover."
Users can also embed the interactive viewer on their Websites or build applications with it using the Google Maps API, wrote Rapoport. "We hope this new feature will enable people to share and witness the beauty and breadth of our planet through Google Maps. Whether you're photographing exotic islands or your favorite neighborhood hangout, mountain peaks or city streets, historic castles or your own business, we're thrilled to see the places you love coming to life on Google Maps."
Google's Street View image collection has been growing regularly since its debut in 2007.
Earlier in December, Street View released images of Venice, Italy, with its canals, water and beautiful and historic architecture, as part of its always expanding image collection. The images throughout Venice were captured by a team of Google workers using the company's special Trekker backpack cameras, which collect many individual images of subjects that are then assembled into 360-degree images. The Venice images covered about 265 miles on foot and about 114 miles by boat.
Because of the city's many picturesque canals and narrow walkways, the Street View team couldn't use a traditional motorized vehicle or a pedal-powered trike to capture the images in Venice. Instead, they had to walk the streets and float in the city's famous gondolas to capture their images.