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Google Debuts Street View and Mapplets 157

Posted by kdawson
from the you-can-see-faces dept.
Today at the O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference Google unveiled two new map features. An O'Reilly blogger describes Street View, which uses 360-degree street-level video from Immersive Media to enable neighborhood walk-throughs in (for now) a few selected areas. The other new feature is Mapplets, which let you embed Google Maps mashups in any Web page. Much more coverage is linked from TechMeme.
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Google Debuts Street View and Mapplets

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  • Editors? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lenroc (632180) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @10:32PM (#19317277)
    TFS disagrees with TFA about what a "mapplet" is. From TFA #1:

    A Mapplet is a special flavor of a Google Gadget, the XML/JavaScript-based widgets you can add to iGoogle - only that this time, you'll be adding it to Google Maps. From a press release by Google: Mapplets enables third party developers to create mini applications that can be displayed on Google Maps, much like Google Gadgets are displayed on iGoogle.
  • The New York MTA Subway stops are now shown on Google Maps. This works on the PC version, but doesn't seem to be active for the mobile version of Google Maps yet. I hope they update this soon.
    • by Arthur B. (806360)
      Uhh, they have been for a long time now...
    • This seems to have been just added to normal Google maps.

      Pittsburgh light rail (T, Trolley) stations now seem to have active schedules.

      This link [google.com] is near a station. Click on the station and it will show you when the next trains depart. Clicking on "view more upcoming departures" does not seem to give any new info.
  • TFA's 'Check it out' link takes you right into a streetview-enabled map area. Interesting to just walk/drive along the enabled road, following the familiar Google-ish road markings, now projected in 3D into to the view.
  • Exit Numbers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ark42 (522144) <slashdot@morCOBO ... t minus language> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @10:45PM (#19317371) Homepage

    Thats all great and stuff, but when will they add exit numbers? It's a pretty basic thing along the lines of labeling road names as far as I'm concerned.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @10:51PM (#19317425)
    These street views are amazing. Some of the shots are pretty high res - people on streets, through windows - I bet if you look hard enough you could see inside of people's homes - hmm, a new crop of google treasure hunts - find the guy in his window. How many people can you find breaking traffic laws? Hmm, how many people will go look up their cities and find their bfriend's car in front of a stranger's place! ;) so many fun things...

    Are there any potential privacy laws google could break by making these photos so readily available online?
  • Cool, we're almost there [slashdot.org]. While this needs dedicated hardware today, and thus dedicated surveillance of areas to be displayed, as digital cameras get integrated GPS and people post those pictures on the web, Google can index the EXIF tags, and do some image processing (based on embedded lens and exposure data) to get us this kind of experience anywhere somebody has taken a/enough picture(s).
  • Uh Oh (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @10:57PM (#19317451) Journal
    Here's a video grab showing Street View in action - this looks & feels amazing, albeit there's potential privacy issues due to the level of detail (you can make out individual faces, license plates and so on):

    Uh Oh, people might see you in a public place.

    No seriously, If you're walking along the side of a road, driving your car on a road, what expectation of privacy do you have here. Are taking pictures of people and vehicles illegal now, do I need to go back and blur out all faces and license plates?
    • Re:Uh Oh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:19PM (#19317581) Homepage Journal
      Although I completely agree with you on the matter of "privacy", I do believe there is a social norm which dictates that it is rude to photograph someone without their permission. That's the problem we have with paparazzi, and those annoying "current affairs" shows that go around with their cameras trying to get people on tape telling them to fuck off, as if it somehow exposes their guilt. These people get punched in the face not because of some expectation of privacy, but because they are violating a social norm. Especially when they continue filming after they have been told to stop. If you want a dose of this yourself, go down to the beach and take some pictures.. you'll be quickly approached by men responding to their girlfriend's squeels of "he's taking our picture!" It's just not acceptable behaviour.

      • Although I completely agree with you on the matter of "privacy", I do believe there is a social norm which dictates that it is rude to photograph someone without their permission.

        I have no inkling of any such norm. Instead I have a large number of books filled with street photography, much of which was taken very much without the subjects knowledge or permission or even awareness.

        While this is not exactly in the same artistic category, I personally agree that there simply is no expecation that images canno
        • by QuantumG (50515)

          I have no inkling of any such norm.
          So what you're saying is that you've never tried to take pictures of people without their permission. Get your camera, go outside and start doing it, right now. If you don't get at least one person who says "hey, I don't want my picture taken" then you live in another world to the rest of us.

          Video cameras, more so.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TheVoice900 (467327)
            I'm a photographer. I shoot people on the street all the time. I've yet to ever have anyone get angry or hostile at me for taking their photograph. In fact, many people actually enjoy having their photo taken and will react positively if you point your camera at them. Most of the rest just assume you must be trying to photograph something else and they're standing in the way, so they'll do their best to move. I'm not aware of any "social norm" neither here in Canada nor in Japan where I lived that dictates
            • by QuantumG (50515)
              Canada and Japan, no shit eh.

          • So what you're saying is that you've never tried to take pictures of people without their permission.

            That's what I'm saying. I've been doing this for years. Sometimes if I want a closeup, like I want to get a picture of someone from a few inches - sure I'll ask. But lots of times I'll just point and click and wave and smile after (if they even see me taking a picture). And I've never had a problem with this. And that's a picture focused on a specific person or set of people.

            For the stuff Google is doin
    • by The Bungi (221687)
      Yep, people don't understand that there is no expectation whatsoever of privacy in public. But it isn't until you actually spell it out like that that it sinks in and they go oooohhh, I see what you're saying...
    • Re:Uh Oh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @06:24AM (#19319451) Homepage
      You make a decent point. But the way something like Big Brother comes in, is as in most changes to society, it creeps in.

      No matter how you look at it, this is a loss of privacy. 20 years ago, you could expect to walk in a public place, and there would be no record of you ever being there. Now, in places like the UK, you are captured all the time, and these recrods can be kept for a long time. So we have lost privacy going out in a public place. The next step is some form of recognition software that can track individuals, everywhere they go.

      So where do you draw the line? When do YOU start to get upset. Or are you one of these people who are happy for the government and private industry to know where you are at all times? If that doesn't bother you (whether you never do anything wrong or not), then you have a problem. If that doesn't bother most people in this world (and I think it won't), then we all have a problem.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by enjahova (812395)
        You act like its the government or some organization that is solely responsible for this invasion of privacy. It's just the natural progression of technology. You ask when do we get upset, where do we draw the line? There is no line, there is no revolution to be had. Cell phones are in the hundreds of millions world wide, camera phones are in the millions. How long before every camera is also has gps, and effortlessly syncs with any computer. Hell, it could just hop on whatever wifi and dump your pics onli
    • I might be way off on this, but I thought there were laws against broadcasting pictures of people's faces without their permission. Isn't that why some news programs have had to blur out people's faces, especially people in the background? I don't think it's an absolute rule (or nobody bothers filing lawsuits), so I'm a bit curious about the details.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    could we please have a moratorium on that word? The quicker it (and the jizzmops that use it) dies the better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:00PM (#19317465)
    Go to the street view of Times Square and what do you see? A big billboard for Yahoo.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&sll=37.84883 3,-122.420654&sspn=1.051842,1.867676&ie=UTF8&om=0& layer=c&cbll=40.756663,-73.986495&cbp=1,156.292682 926829,0.5,0&ll=40.763544,-73.987255&spn=0.013392, 0.031028&z=15 [google.com]

    I know Google themselves didn't collect the data, but it's still kind of amusing.
  • This stuff makes scoping out someone's house soooo much easier.
    • Actually, this was one of the first really interesting uses I had thought of for it. Albeit, not for stalking.

      Combined with the already excellent HousingMaps (google maps + Craigslist apartment listings) hack this would be a great way to get a view of potential apartments... well, from the outside at least. If photos are available (and for a good chunk of San Francisco they thankfully are) you can even get a quick, vague overview of the neighborhood without having to go all the way out there first.
      • ... if it saves a few car trips around the neighbourhood to scope out places to live.
        Now I don't have to go to SF, I'll just spend a a few hours online "walking" the place! :)

        • by Belgand (14099)
          Meh. I live in the city. I almost never drive anywhere inside the city limits if I can possibly avoid it. It's not worth the hassle of traffic and (especially) parking. If I don't know for certain that I can get easy, free parking then it's walking, BART, or Muni.

          I only drive when I'm going to be in the suburbs.
    • by Zibblsnrt (125875)
      Yeah, it reminds me of those guys who started printing "phone books" that list someone's name *and* address in them. I mean, you could find where someone lived simply by knowing their name and hometown!

      Really, now. Who's the bastard who came up with that bright idea?

  • Games (Score:4, Funny)

    by hack slash (1064002) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:10PM (#19317525)
    So how long now 'til we can play Grand Theft Auto:Earth?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I REALLY FUCKING HATE THE WORD "MASHUPS" !!!!!!!! Apparently there were too many caps in my post, so I typed this to change the cap/lc ratio. Bite that you yelling detectors!
  • A little more programming and this can become a second Second Life ?
  • by grouchomarxist (127479) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:22PM (#19317603)
    Wired has some pictures [wired.com] of the kind of car rig that takes these street-level panoramas.
    • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
      Ok - so that one is Teleatlas, Google has demonstrated that they are doing it, and I saw a live.local.com camera-rigged SUV (looked a lot like the one in the wired article you linked to) going down Bay Area Blvd on the south side of Houston about a week ago. So they're all obviously interested in doing something similar, just seems like a lot of duplicated work.
    • by aarku (151823)
      Excellent. So now when I see that car, I open the sun roof and hold out my "Hi, Mom!!" sign for a few blocks. Or if I were more nefarious, your standard Buy V1AgR@ ad. Google bombing to the extreme.
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Ahhh, so that's sick [wired.com].
  • Mapplets (Score:4, Funny)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:24PM (#19317625) Homepage Journal
    Damn, I thought it said Muppets.
  • I can see my dog. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I typed in my own address, and by zooming in all the way on the street view photo, I was able to very clearly see my dog sitting in the window, staring directly at the camera. Scary.
  • by Tharkban (877186) on Tuesday May 29, 2007 @11:41PM (#19317715) Homepage Journal
    search for "500 State Street Brooklyn NY" and move west along state street. The camera gets stuck in traffic and the address keeps moving along. Additionally, 500 State Street isn't what it's supposed to be http://www.mro.org/firelotus/firelotus/index.shtml [mro.org]. It's cool and all that they did this, but I'm not impressed with it's usefulness.
  • Also new is Microsoft's (yeah, yeah, boo, hiss) 3D view update to maps.live.com [slashdot.org]. Similar to Google Earth, but integrated directly into their website, albeit with plug-in. Shockingly, they even support Firefox with a separate plug-in I hear.

    To try it just click 3D view on a major city. It really is quite beautiful once it's done loading, but it takes a helluva long time on my system to load. I think it's the bandwidth that's the limiting factor on it, since my computer is pretty up to spec.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I count at least three of the "Use of Cameras Prohibited, Strictly Enforced" signs on the Triboro.

  • by cmacb (547347) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @12:07AM (#19317861) Homepage Journal
    The competition between Microsoft, Yahoo and Google over all these features is wonderful, but as each new feature is announced they work only in a few major cities and in some cases there seems to be no prospects for a wider roll out. While New York and Silicon Valley may have 3D rotating virtual reality animations large parts of the coastline are still low resolution 8 year old images. This is starting to look more like a pissing contest between the big players rather than anything that will be useful in the near term for most Americans (let alone other countries).

    For comparison I picked a random part of Washington DC and zoomed in using Microsoft maps to see the 3D view, which (since Google isn't there yet with this feature, would put MS in the lead as far as usability for my general area) but as I zoomed in I noticed that I was looking at a construction site and during my zoom the construction went from bare dirt to a fully developed community (ie the closer pictures were more up to date). Well, thats nice, but in general it is very distracting to see roads change and seasons come and go as you zoom in or out of an area. Google is no better with often old fuzzy-to-the-point-of-useless sections right up next to crystal clear housetop photos, with no rhyme nor reason to which sections are sharp and which are fuzzy. At least with Google the image resolution doesn't change as you zoom in or out, but I've certainly been following a road in mid density areas and found that the road would be clear enough to see vehicles on it in one section and then almost impossible to discern the road from the surrounding objects in the next.

    Let's face it: ALL the imagery is a nice to have not a need to have. The cartoon maps are good enough for navigation. But if they are going to present us with imagery at all, isn't it time some of these things get out of the laboratory phase and into something more closely resembling production?
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Yes, you are right. It is not perfect. How dare they release something that is not perfect, who knows what this will lead to?

      Stop your whingeing, don't use it if it upsets you. You don't have to use it. Meanwhile, lots of people will find many uses for this, sure not as many people who enjoy google earth or google maps, but still many people will.

      • by cmacb (547347)

        who knows what this will lead to?

        Feel free to take your own advice about "whinging".

        If users sit idly by and let vendors walk all over them it will lead to exactly the situation users currently have with Microsoft, a "benevolent" dictatorship that puts out products and services that don't do the majority of users any good but feed Wall Streets urges for "innovation".

        As a believer in a functioning free market, I see it as my job to complain, boycott, and change vendors as frequently as it takes to get attent

        • by mgblst (80109)
          Feel free to take your own advice about "whinging".

          If users sit idly by and let vendors walk all over them it will lead to exactly the situation users currently have with Microsoft, a "benevolent" dictatorship that puts out products and services that don't do the majority of users any good but feed Wall Streets urges for "innovation".

          Perhaps you can explain to me how google in releasing this somehow means they are walking over you? Or is everybody out to get you.

          Personally, I am sick of you people,
  • by PotatoPhysics (126423) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @01:02AM (#19318181)

    All of the non-San Francisco Street View data is provided by a company called Immersive Media [immersivemedia.com]. They have a special omnidirectional video sensor with 11 elements that shoots 30 frames per second. The 11 cameras do a great job rejecting glare from the sun. Compare the SF footage with the Las Vegas footage and look for sun glare overriding the sensor. At street speeds, there is about 1 image every 3 to 5 inches. Street View is showing you one frame every 30 to 100 or so.

    The Teleatlas camera car doesn't shoot panoramas, the cameras are too far away to avoid massive parallax errors and their cameras are pretty narrow field of view. I'm sure the collect very good POI data, though. The survey vehicles used for the Immersive Media dataset are actually Volkswagon Beetles, there is a tiny picture on the Immersive Media homepage. The camera can actually see down most of the way to the road and anything other than a Beetle has a pretty big footprint in the image. The camera system also see straight up even though the Flash viewer in Street View does not. It's actually the warping of the pixels to make the view that is the weakest link in the distribution chain.

    The vehicles have the camera system and a special inertial positioning system that provides survey grade coordinates as the vehicle moves down the road even underground. That system is made by Applanix and it's the same type of system used by many of the Darpa Grand Challenge Candidates.

    All this adds up to many TBs of data and although it isn't easy to stream on the web, they have figured out how to do it. If you visit the demo page [immersivemedia.com] you can see full motion video panoramas that you can drag and look up, down, left and right in! Requires Shockwave from Adobe. The streaming isn't as sharp as the original product but it gives you an idea of navigating an Immersive movie. Sort of like Quicktime VR but it is really a movie!

    Immersive Media has collected data all over North America, you can see the complete extent of their collects and browse some clips [immersivemedia.com]. We also just announced a major expansion into Europe so we'll see you blokes over the pond soon!

    Full Disclosure: I wire the systems on the Beetles and write post-processing software for Immersive Media. I've trained a lot of drivers in how to run inertial positioning systems and I'm really pleased that data I support is finally being seen by people! And feel free to Slashdot the demo page, the servers are waiting to show you our movies. Remember to click and drag to look around, this isn't boring old static web video where you look where we tell you too.

  • The blue '06 Infiniti G35 in the center of the picture [google.com], with the license plate conveniently obscured by the "City of Palo Alto Parking" sign.

    Oh, and my I-key is fine.
  • You can't look up and down.
  • Why is it news that Google now has it, too? Has Google become like Microsoft--so automatically newsworthy that it is automatically news whenever Google copies its competitors?

    I played with it A9's version a while, but have never been able to find any practical use for it. At one point I thought I had a use for it--trying to settle a question of how many stories tall a particular building was--but the views didn't show enough in the vertical direction.

    And then another time I thought I a use for it--verifying
    • by extra88 (1003)
      http://maps.a9.com/ [a9.com] shut down last year. I found it useful for finding visual landmarks when traveling to an area I hadn't been to before. Other uses:
      • See an apartment building and its neighborhood when apartment hunting
      • checking business addresses to see if they look like a "real" business rather than a rented mailbox, an apartment, etc. to help with deciding whether or not to buy from them
      • Not only find restaurants near a location you're going to but also see what they look like. However, this requires
  • When will Google Earth have this in it?
  • After reading the Shape of the Future speech [slashdot.org] by Charlie Stross, about how many of us in the future will carry a GPS-enabled, internet-connected video and audio recorder, I am wondering if this sort of technology will find its way into a Google Maps "street view"-like interface. It would be very interesting to be able to click on a person on the street map and see/hear what they are experiencing, if they "opt in" to the system of course. For instance, you would be able to see a riot as it occurred, or watc
  • Demand java and flash and a quick computer - Microsoft and intel loves you!

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