It might not feel like Google Street View has been around for more than a decade. But it has. And while most of the world’s cities have now been extensively photographed and mapped, the pictures haven’t always been the best quality.
Google has recently announced it will be completely upgrading its Street View platform, with new cameras and a greater effort to build collaboration with the public.
The new camera promises to “capture our world in greater detail than ever before”.
The new set up has actually reduced the amount of cameras in each Street View unit – down to seven from 15 – but new lenses and improved AI technology have meant that fewer cameras are necessary.
The technology has been designed to see the world in the same way that humans do – by focusing on signs and names, while minimising less important information. The AI has been trained to highlight the important parts of Street View – i.e. why we use Street View in the first place – meaning that numbers, street names and information about businesses are no longer blurred into oblivion.
As it currently stands, only parts of California and Brazil have been mapped, but Google expects to roll the new technology out across the globe soon.
In the spirit of social media and user collaboration, the new platform has promised to have a greater degree of integration with images taken from the general public.
Anyone with a relatively sophisticated smartphone will be able to upload their images and video, which will then be integrated with Google’s existing records.
While there are some concerns surrounding privacy – as privately uploaded images won’t automatically blur faces like Google’s cameras will – the upgrade is a significant improvement on what has already been the world’s most ambitious mapping project.