Google's looking for a hand in keeping Street View updated by putting some high-powered tech into your hands.
In order to do that, Google's turned to third-party manufacturers to develop what they call "Street View Ready" high-powered cameras that take photos at the resolution they require for Street View. TechCrunch said that the first of these entrants is Insta360's Pro camera, which shoots five frames per second in 360-degree 8K, complete with real-time image stabilization. It's made to sit on top of your car, just like the cameras that sit on top of Google's dedicated Street View camera vans. They're also making it seamless to upload the photos you take, allowing you to control everything through the Street View app. This particular camera will run you $3,499 a hefty price tag, but again, it comes with some pretty neat bells and whistles. Google is also looking to loan out 50 of these cameras to people or organizations, says Engadget.
According to The Verge, this offering is only the first of four to be offered under Google's "Street View Ready" certification program.
This is one way Google Maps is planning to get end users to cover the gaps that Google can't fill themselves. Obviously they can't take their Street View vans or monopods all over the place, and they can't pay nearly enough people to photograph every inch of the planet. But if they can get people excited about this high-definition camera, then that problem more or less solves itself. As well, contributors whose images make the cut onto Street View will get full attribution and credit for their work.
It'll be interesting to see what these cameras turn up. For example, in researching for today's article regarding the city's attempt to shut down a suspected Richmond District brothel, Google Street View turned up photos of various people entering the business to which the alleged brothel was attached. Privacy concerns abound, and it remains yet to be seen how Google will vet the images that make it onto Street View. Google will of course have to blur faces and license plates in third-party-produced Street View photos, as per their current policy. But now it could be just any car photographing you on the street, and not a very obviously branded Google van.