For $3,499, You Too Can Contribute To Google Street View

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Google’s street view feature has its pros and cons. For example, it makes finding places easier because you can get an understanding of what the area looks like before you go there. You can use it to locate places of interest such as shops and landmarks etc. On the other hand, it also means that if the content isn’t regularly updated, you would be looking at an image that is a few months to even a year old.

Google Street View For Everybody

Recently, Google announced a new program called “Street View ready”. The program essentially allows anyone with suitable hardware to add to Google’s existing Street View database. For the record, footage and content for Google’s Street View are usually created using Google’s own fleet of street view cars. You probably saw a few of them roaming the streets of Colombo a year or so ago. Well, these vehicles are equipped with 360-degree cameras. Now unless you work at Google and are a part of this program, then you can’t really add content for Google Street View. However, now that’s all about to change.

Street View
A Google Street View vehicle
Image Credits: Blog Baladi</br

Meet the Insta360 Pro

What’s so special about it? Well, for starters, its designated as “Street View auto ready” by Google. The Insta360 Pro is a camera that is capable of capturing 360-degree footage at a staggering 8K resolution (7680×4320). The camera can capture still images at up to 5fps (frames per second). It also has in-built real-time image stabilization.

Street View
The Insta360 Pro Camera
Image Credits: NewsShooter

In order to capture footage using the Insta360 Pro, Google will provide the ability to control the Insta360 Pro directly from the Street View app. From there, you can capture both audio and video, and proceed to upload the content via the official Insta360 Stitcher software. The ability for the Insta360 Pro to shoot 5fps 8k content is a brand new feature that is being added to the device by means of a software update that is specifically designed for capturing Street View content. This is coupled with a new USB hardware accessory that will ship from Insta360. The accessory will essentially allow GPS data to be added to captured imaging data.

Street View: A boon or a bane?

On one hand, this does sound like an interesting way for people to contribute to Google Street View. It will also help Google cover territory that is usually not accessible by their own teams.  On the other hand, it could also be a tad problematic depending on the content captured by individuals. For example, if multiple people were to submit content of the same area, it may take some time to process all of it.

Furthermore, you will also need to buy the camera as well. That’s the next issue. The camera retails for $3,499. While that does make one’s kidney’s shrivel up, it is currently the only hardware that is certified to be ‘Street View ready’ by Google. As a consolation though, Google is making the Insta360 Pro available as a loaner to qualified individuals and organizations, which should put it more within reach.

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