Thursday, October 25, 2012

Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG) Cameras Now Capture Trails of Grand Canyon

Yet another milestone has been achieved by Google Inc(NASDAQ:GOOG) after its street view cameras have previously taken users on a tour of the narrow cobblestone alleys in Spain using a tricycle, inside the Smithsonian with a push cart and to British Columbia's snow-covered slopes by snowmobile. Now it is the turn of the Grand Canyon via a camera on a backpack.

The Street View feature uses a rosette of cameras to capture images of numerous towns and landmarks so that users can view the image on a 360-degree plane rather than just 2-D images. The idea was to bring to users those world-famous landmarks that might not be accessible by road, according to Ryan Falor, product manager at Google. Backpacks are not yet available for volunteer use, but eventually users will be able to view national forests, to the narrow streets of Venice, Mount Everest and to ancient ruins and castles.

Previously, Apple ditched Google Maps for its in-house mapping tool that was full of glitches and gave inaccurate directions. This is Google’s way of fighting back and how! Steve Silverman, operations manager for Google stated that the latest offering is going to be extremely hard to compete with.

The route taken by Luc Vincent, Google engineering director, began from Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River, with a camera fixes on one of the 40-pound backpacks. He went back up from Phantom Ranch, 30 degrees warmer than at the rim, through the South Kaibab Trail, while collecting data on other trails.

Images are taken 2.5 seconds with 15 cameras that are 5 megapixels each from the rest areas. Falor said that due to GPS data being limited, they have made use of sensors that record temperature, vibrations and the orientation of the device as it changes. The process needs to be done seamlessly before the technology can be made available to users in a few months.

Faces of hikers will be hazy in order to protect their privacy, but all in all this will be very helpful as people can view the place that they are about to visit in detail on a wider perspective.

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