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Google Social Networks

Google Enhances Street View With User Photos 133

Posted by kdawson
from the pick-your-point-of-view dept.
Google has launched a competitor or counterpart to Microsoft's Photosynth, which employs user-contributed photos of much-photographed sites to supplement the street-level view in an immersive way. Google's offering is called simply Navigate through User Photos, and unlike Photosynth — which requires Sliverlight and therefore is not available on Linux — is implemented in Flash. This YouTube video (also embedded at the link above) offers a quick tour of the new feature, which can use photos uploaded to Panoramico, Flickr, and Picasa.
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Google Enhances Street View With User Photos

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  • by MushMouth (5650) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:23PM (#31310798) Homepage

    Try Moonlight.

    http://www.mono-project.com/Moonlight [mono-project.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Run! It's a trap!

      • by Hadlock (143607) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @11:36PM (#31311642) Homepage Journal

        I showed that link to my buddy. He responded with this link:
         
        http://www.videosift.com/video/TED-Augmented-reality-using-Bing-maps
         
        Which makes the google demo look like something from 1996 in comparison. (Skip ahead to the 4:20 mark for some jaw-dropping live video overlaid on top of 3D interior shots of pike place market, generated from user pics. Mix that sort of data with technology like this [youtube.com] and with enough computing power you could probably render a decent 3D model of the habitated world in a few weeks.

        • My, aren't you tardy to the party [slashdot.org].
          • by Hadlock (143607)

            I missed it, or maybe it was CmdrTaco's description* that made me skip it. Either way, it's worth repeating.
             
            *Actual description on /. front page - "This is a really exciting video and worth your 8 minutes."

        • It's good that we have both Microsoft and Google in the game now. For all the new "cool" and "hip" stuff each does to show off, the other side has to raise the stake higher, and ultimately we as users (of either service, doesn't really matter which one) get all that tasty stuff.

          I'm not a libertarian, but free markets can work to the advantage of the society, given right conditions. This seems to be one of those cases.

          • it isn't about free markets working to the advantage of anyone... it's about unfree markets working to the destruction of everyone.

            who said you were libertarian?

          • by gangien (151940)

            but free markets can work to the advantage of the society, given right conditions. This seems to be one of those cases.

            and technology is one of the areas with the least amount of government involved. This is not a coincidence.

            • Yeah it's not like every simple little idea is registered at some kind of "Patent Office" and the wireless spectrum is micromanaged by some kind of "Federal Communications Commission." And of course the infrastructure the Internet runs on is 100% free-market privately owned and paid for, no government assistance there, no sir. I'm also glad governments keep their hands off the software, and don't contribute anything to open source projects, especially well-known security software, or assist software vendors

              • by jon3k (691256)
                Especially that whole "Internet" thing I'm glad that was a private project without any government intrusion. WHEW!
              • by gangien (151940)

                I said, it was one of the places with the least amount of government involved. Or you think the FCC and patent office help the technology market in some way?

                Yes the government provided some of the infrastructure. But it's still been relatively hands off.

                I'm also glad governments keep their hands off the software, and don't contribute anything to open source projects, especially well-known security software, or assist software vendors in improving security, because that would be socialism.

                Government has le

        • by node 3 (115640) on Monday March 01, 2010 @03:21AM (#31312790)

          Which makes the google demo look like something from 1996 in comparison. (Skip ahead to the 4:20 mark for some jaw-dropping live video overlaid on top of 3D interior shots of pike place market, generated from user pics.

          The video you are referring to is a demo that required a guy with a camera to stream live for the presentation. Google's system actually works right now.

          MS is superb at giving tech demos. They are even better at timing them to most strongly attack their opponents. But what they are awful at is delivering. Until MS gets enough cameras placed everywhere so that you can reasonably expect, even if primarily only in metropolitan areas, that they will have a camera view you can access, it's just going to be a cool gimmick that will have a camera on the Eiffel Tower, and one at Times Square, and maybe three in Seattle.

          As of right now, they don't even have *one* set up anywhere.

          It's fairly impressive, however, the way MS has this down to an art. They show this cool tech off, and everyone remembers how cool it is, and now existing products have to compete against an imaginary MS product that doesn't even exist and will most likely not exist any time soon.

          They tried this with Surface when the iPhone debuted. That backfired, but even so, Suface, the demo, is damned cool. Surface, the reality, is a gimmick.

          • by Hadlock (143607)

            I don't claim to be a MS fanboy, I only run XP for games; my laptops/netbooks all run ubuntu. Had any other company in the world released this you wouldn't have commented the way you did. Did you see how the user videos were overlaid right overtop of the existing data?? In google it's just a black, blank canvas (try looking up under the eiffle tower in paris). Who cares if you need a live feed to do that? Their system is infinitely more extensible than google's currently is. As for releasing tech demos, thi

            • by node 3 (115640)

              Had any other company in the world released this you wouldn't have commented the way you did.

              Correct, as Microsoft is the only high profile tech company that engages in such behavior time and time again. It's in the company's DNA.

              IBM used to act in the same way, so I suppose were we to transport ourselves to the 60s, I'd respond similarly to them. But were in the 10s now, and MS has been the smoke-and-mirrors king for the past 30 years.

              I also give MS kudos for the things they get right, so don't try to paint me as some sort of anti-MS troll. If you read my post through at least once, you'll notice

            • by slim (1652)

              I think the difference is that you can do the Google stuff in /your/ browser /now/.

              We have to wait and see how much of the MS tech demo becomes available to the public, and in how diluted a form.

              MS Photosynth was kinda neat, but nowhere near as impressive as it was in its demo. ("We reconstruct public spaces entirely out of images harvested from the web", becomes "Take a set of carefully coordinated photos, assemble them on your desktop, then upload the result to our servers")

          • by Amouth (879122)

            actually you can by an MS Surface table - they are jsut far far far far far far far (i'll stop now but it keeps going) to damn expensive ~10k each.

          • by pbrandao (850680)

            Although I agree with some points you make (namely the video is still demo material) the flickr and photosynth embedded in the street view in bing maps is already a reality and way better integrated than google's.

            The new maps [bing.com] where you can add apps to the map view (the flickr thing is tech prev but available). Some are either not well supplied of entries or tricky to use, but the photosynth and flickr photos integrate great in the street view. The positioning of the photos is very accurate (not as google's

        • Cool demos are great, but Google has a product that is used by many millions of people at the same time. They need something that is scalable and usable over realistic internet connections. I'm sure that a company like Google could create a mind blowing demo like that quite easily, (and they might have something like that internally), but I doubt if they will make a released product out of it until it's a practical idea.
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:34PM (#31310858) Homepage Journal
      Moonlight has two drawbacks:
      • Moonlight is perpetually a version behind Microsoft Silverlight, resulting in Silverlight apps displaying only "your Silverlight plug-in is outdated".
      • Outside Microsoft, a major use for Silverlight is to stream video with digital restrictions management to make it significantly harder to save to the viewer's PC. Free software is fundamentally incompatible with this DRM.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MushMouth (5650)

        There is a silverlight 3 beta available which works about as well for me as flash 10. (both crash all the time on my linux 64 bit box)

        • Flash doesn't work half the time on my Linux 64 box, but it never crashes (crashes were very regular on 32-bit.)

          But I'm using npviewer, not the native 64-bit Flash.

        • by Simon80 (874052)

          Are you using the 64-bit flash plugin? Ubuntu has inexplicably ignored it in favour of the unstable nspluginwrapper option, despite the vast difference in user experience. Their rationale is something about it not being supported by Adobe. On the other hand, the 32 and 64 bit players have had version parity whenever I've checked, and there is a fairly large stream of comments on the relevant bug that confirm that the 64-bit plugin works much more reliably. If you're using 64-bit Ubuntu and the default flash

        • I use the Debian package for the alpha 64 bit flash 10.

          It works after installing the one package.

          Silverlight (or moonlight) requires me to install a lot of the mono framework before it installs and every site I go to states that it requires a new version (that or it does not even recogonize I have it installed.)

          If I can have an installer for Doom3, Postal, Postal 2, Quake 4, Crossover, Enemmy Territory, HP products, Nvidia drivers, etc, why can't MS create an installer for silverlight? Obviously, it is bec

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MushMouth (5650)

        How is B) any different than the use of Flash (which this Johnny-Come-Lately google app uses)? Especially considering Moonlight is fully open source, which no version of flash 10 is.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rayban (13436)

          How does Moonlight figure into it? That's like saying Flash is open-source because Gnash exists. Both are incomplete re-implementations of proprietary plugins. Neither of them can catch up to the canonical implementation.

      • by xenn (148389)

        Is FlyByNight a name you might consider for marketing either product?

      • Outside Microsoft, a major use for Silverlight is to stream video with digital restrictions management to make it significantly harder to save to the viewer's PC. Free software is fundamentally incompatible with this DRM.

        I don't understand how using "free software" translates into a requirement for "unprotected content."

        PPV, thelease or rental model, is considred legitimate in many other contexts. Why does it become illegitimate when the rental is an audio or video recording?

        Document management is essentia

        • by Al Dimond (792444)

          The point isn't that the business model is illegitimate. The point is that implementing effective DRM in open-source software is practically more difficult than doing it in closed-source. I'm not really sure how they plan on stopping someone from re-compiling Moonlight with patches to save the video to the hard drive.

          Such a thing probably violates some patent license, so no reputable distro would package it directly. But if its use became widespread there would be lots of pressure on Microsoft to disallow F

        • PPV, thelease or rental model, is considred legitimate in many other contexts. Why does it become illegitimate when the rental is an audio or video recording?

          With free software, there's no way for a publisher to prevent users from editing the source code and inserting the equivalent of a tee(1) [ed.ac.uk].

          Document management is essential in business.

          "Document management" connotes access control for unpublished works within an organization, used to enforce trade secrets on machines owned by that organization. Even when used between two organizations, these organizations are still in a position to negotiate terms. "Digital restrictions management", on the other hand, connotes access control for published works, used to

        • I don't understand how using "free software" translates into a requirement for "unprotected content."

          DRM, because it requires all the information for unlocking content to be present with the content on the users machine, but requires the user not to be able to use that information to acccess the content except consistent with the limits provided, inherently requires security-through-obscurity of a type that is fundamentally incompatible with free software.

    • by JohnyDog (129809) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:35PM (#31310866)

      Try Moonlight.

      When stable Moonlight 1.0 was released as stable version about a year ago i tried it, only to be greeted by 'Silverlight 2.0 required, won't work with 1.0' on most non-demo pages.
      This christmas someone posted me a photosynth link, i saw that Moonlight finally reached 2.0 stable release, so i again tried it, only to be greeted with 'Silverlight 3.0 required, won't work on 2.0' on photosynth and most other pages. Maybe someday in future there will be at least few day window when the silverlight app requirements match the available moonlight version, but it's not today.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:43PM (#31310940)

      Note to Slashdot Editors: Apps that avoid the use of Flash are Less Evil than Apps which do not run in Linux.

      And please, if you're ever unclear on any of this Good/Evil stuff, don't hesitate to ask me.

    • by tpgp (48001)

      Try Moonlight.

      Well, I just went & downloaded the Moonlight 3 preview for linux & it doesn't work well enough with Photosynth for it to really be usable.

      Not that flash is exactly the cross-platform wunderkid that the submitter implies.

    • by miffo.swe (547642)

      Define work? I tried it and i havent been successful with any site where i did need Silverlight support. It always seem to lag a version behind whats on the net.

    • Where is the binary for PPC/OSX ? Also does it do exactly what Silverlight 3/Win does?

      Moonlight... Come on really.

  • A whole lot of math (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:37PM (#31310874)

    I noticed this last week sometime. My first thought when I see this technology is always "damn that's a lot of maths".

    • by biryokumaru (822262) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:38PM (#31310888)
      Mine was "I hope no one tries to post a picture of the Korean War Memorial."
      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        Mine was "I hope no one tries to post a picture of the Korean War Memorial."

        Au contraire... let's hope there's a flash mob protest that posts THOUSANDS of photos.

    • by mikael (484)

      My thought, is it possible to map black and white photographs taken over 50 years ago to this? Some websites are selling reprints of antique postcards, which are in fact high-resolution photographs. The landscape in many cases is slightly different; buildings have had balconies added, trees are several meters taller. In some scenes, group photographs have been taken. I've wonder whether it would be possible to combine the photographs and streetview together so you could see the people as if they were cardbo

      • by LoudMusic (199347)

        The historic photos is actually one of the neat aspects that each of the groups providing this technology have pointed out. I believe it was first a college team demonstrating it a few years ago, but Microsoft also commented on being able to "walk through time" with this technology.

        As for the cardboard cutouts - that sounds awesome. It would require image formats that allow high color and transparency and that either someone cut the images or that someone write really good auto cropping software (:

  • Brownies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l00sr (266426) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:39PM (#31310894)

    ...unlike Photosynth — which requires Sliverlight and therefore is not available on Linux — is implemented in Flash

    I'm thinking of making some crack brownies that are delicious and unlike pot brownies--which have pot in them and are therefore dangerous--have crack in them.

  • by adosch (1397357) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:41PM (#31310916)

    So long to the Bing hype done at TED this year. Good idea to incorporate user-submitted photos where the Google StreetView car is not welcomed or... hated. I think as long as the quality, angle and panorama of submitted images are scrutinized for the well-being and wealth of StreetView, it won't be very long before Google has image mapped everything with a road going through it.

    ...so what's the next best way to data mine people's personal vacation photography? Simply invite them to freely contribute to the bigger, shadowed cause. 0_0

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spagetti_code (773137)
      So photo software has been offering facial recognition for a while. When this all gets uploaded to google, you're going to be able to ask (where was X on the given date). Cool. Scary.
    • Get people to submit pics of themselves. They could call it Bada Bing!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tromad (1741656)

      Except bing maps is far superior to google maps. Google maps is more technical but both bing maps and even mapquest are superior for navigating to unfamiliar areas. Google maps will give you the technical name of the freeway, but bing maps/mapquest will give you the name of the freeway as it appears on the freeway signs (for example going to LAX google will say to get onto the San Deigo freeway, which is true. However, the freeway signs say Santa Monica. Both bing and mapquest say Santa Monica on the printo

      • by xenn (148389)

        I get your point. That could as almost difficult as changing to metric.

    • http://www.videosift.com/video/TED-Augmented-reality-using-Bing-maps [videosift.com] Take a look again, the Bing demonstration can also overlay video.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      But you know people are gonna Photoshop goatse, tits, and Sarah Palin[1] into windows etc.

      [1] No connection between the 3.....I think.

    • by coaxial (28297)

      So long to the Bing hype done at TED this yearl.

      So the headline is "Google plays catchup to Bing"?

  • Old photos (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Antidamage (1506489) * on Sunday February 28, 2010 @09:46PM (#31310958) Homepage

    My neighbour has photos of our street from when he was a kid. I'm planning to scan them and put them up. Quite the change over the years.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think this is really where the technology becomes useful, archival photos.

      If I could have a slider in the interface to go back through photos from the 'past' in the same location it would be an excellent record of development.

      If only all cameras shipped with GPS for location,compass for direction.. and 3G for realtime uploads :)

      If you had directional information in the photos, you could automatically locate points of interest where directional information intersects (monuments etc.)

    • Our county assessors office has been taking individual pics of each house over the past decade (varying quality). When you go into their site to check your property taxes and such they have them all posted. Having a sliding scale for time would be a very interesting archival solution.

  • photos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:10PM (#31311150)
    I hope there's someone vetting the pics. One of the most annoying aspects of Panoramico, is that there's more than a few narcissists who post pics of things like "our dog Benji at the beach," rather than an informative pic that will enhance the Google Earth user-experience.

    Still... if no-one is vetting the pics, there is a LOT of fun to be had with this.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      I hope there's someone vetting the pics.

      Surely it would be based on user ratings rather than some poor slob having to look at hundreds of thousands of photographs (and drawing a salary)!

      By the way, when taking your own photos, the best thing you can do is take those "narcissistic" shots that outsiders find un-interesting. Nobody, including mostly likely yourself, will ever care about most of the architecture or scenery shots you take; there are billions of those. Any shot of interest to the general p

    • Hey look it's Goatse at the Eifel Tower. Hey look it's Goatse on the steps of St. Peters. Hey look it's Goatse at Point Sublime on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

      No thanks, I'd rather have someone vetting the photos.
    • Photosynth actually started as a PhD project called Photo Tourism [washington.edu] before it was taken over by Microsoft. There was a presentation where they downloaded a lot of pictures of the cathedral in Strasbourg. Given enough samples they were able to find typical viewpoints, they managed to align day- and night-shots, and they even could detect obstruction.

  • by IANAAC (692242) on Sunday February 28, 2010 @10:24PM (#31311250)
    I seem to remember seeing user-submitted photos of my place (a random Chicago three-flat) at least a year back.

    Or is this something different?

  • Can they order individuals to take down photos too? Or will Google have to "blur" them?

  • Ok, how does this change the privacy issues [slashdot.org] ?

    If Google takes the images themselves they have to blur all the faces and number plates, but if they include user contributed images of the same scene they don't need to blur them ?

    So .. if I (as a private citizen) take pictures of a street and upload them to Flickr with geo-tags, Google will use them un-blurred.

    What if I (as a private citizen) mounted a camera on a car and took LOTS of pictures and uploaded them to Flickr with geo-tags, Google would be ab

    • by chrono325 (796121)

      Ok, how does this change the privacy issues [slashdot.org] ?

      If you are uploading geotagged, unblurred pictures to a public site, then you are uploading geotagged, unblurred pictures to a public site. If you don't want people seeing those pictures, don't upload them (or mark them private). It was always possible to look through Flickr pictures, so this doesn't change anything in that regard.

      The problem with Google Street View is that they are _taking_ new pictures and making them public.

      • The problem is not the privacy of the people who make and upload those pictures, it's the privacy of the people who are seen on the photos. And you're right that the problem doesn't suddenly appear because Google is using those pictures. It was there even without Google. Google using those pictures while being constrained with the pictures they make themselves just makes the problem more obvious.

        If you make a picture of a place, and I'm on that place, too, and visible on that picture, and you upload that pi

      • by zrq (794138)

        The problem with Google Street View is that they are _taking_ new pictures and making them public.

        Yep, that was the reason people gave for objecting to Google StreetView, that Google were deliberately setting out to take new pictures and publish them in a system that made it easy to find images of a specific street.

        My question is ... now that I know that Google will include 3rd party geo-tagged images in StreetView. What are the privacy implications of me (as a private citizen) deliberately setting out

  • ...and texture them onto the ground and 3d buildings in Google Earth, I'll be impressed.
  • by tonywestonuk (261622) on Monday March 01, 2010 @02:09AM (#31312372)

    Why not do this as an Applet, not Flash.... After all, Java is FOSS, and works on all platforms. Applets launch fast, (unless they have megabytes of Jars to load, though this problem is not just with Java).

  • Has anyone "mined" google-street view?
    By mine, I mean do image-processing to drive around virtually, and look for speedlimit signs or what have you?

    speedlimits [wikispeedia.org]

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