When Google Maps was first released, people were instantly fascinated by the site. How great is it to be able to type in an address and not only get directions, but be able to “virtually” travel to and view wherever you’re looking for – for free?
Viewers can even take their virtual travel to the next level by planting their feet at their "destination" and then "taking a walk around the neighborhood," thanks to Google Maps'street view options.
In general, Google Maps has made our lives easier while also providing some entertainment. Now they’ve given yet another way to explore distand lands from our computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Although there’s “nothing like the real thing,” Google Maps recently added a feature that will undoubtedly become hugely popular, all thanks to the process of digitizing photos.
Google Maps It All Out By Digitizing Photos
So what’s the next big Google development? Forget looking at city streets and scrutinizing the tiny details in their map images. Their new feature, photo tours, allows users to not only take a virtual stroll down a street, but increase the quality and experience of “virtual vacations” by allowing users to visit some of the most famous places in the world for free and in 3D style.
This new photo tour feature is achieved by digitizing photos of famous destinations and attractions all over the world. The feature depicts the location as though you’re “flying” around it, providing a whole new 3D experience that also allows you to view the location from different perspectives.
3D Photo Tours
To achieve the 3D effect, Google uses advanced computer vision techniques by combining public photos that users contribute to Picasa and Panaromio.
According to Google Maps software engineer Steve Seitz, the photo tour capability pulls pictures together, with one photo morphing into the next to create a streamlined and “360 degree” journey around places of interest. This is done by using Google Map’s photo layer.
Thanks to the increasingly common practice of digitizing photos, “visitors” will be able to view something that’s far more complete and exciting than clicking through individual photos of places.
Does Every Location Have Photo Tours, and How Can I Find Them?
Although Google is cleverly making an unprecedented feature by digitizing photos in a whole new way, not every location offers photo tours.
In order to find out which locations offer photo tours, one of two things can be done. After searching for the place, look to see if there’s a large thumbnail saying “photo tour" on the left side panel. If that thumbnail is there, click it and you’re off. You can also click on a landmark’s label, and an information window that pops up will tell you if there’s a tour for your chosen landmark.
Even though virtual photo tours are not available everywhere, there’s certainly no shortage of tours. There are currently over 15,000 famous locations all over the world are available to tour.
Using Photo Scanning to "Travel"
So what does that mean for you? Other than the fact that you can “go” to Italy and tour St. Mark’s Basilica, it adds one more reason to the list of why digitizing photos is so important. With this new feature rolling out, there’s never been a better time for digitizing photos – you never know just where they may let someone visit.
Photo Credit: Flickr