October 29, 2011

Google Street View To Offer Indoor Photos Of Businesses

Google has launched a "pilot project" that will allow users of its Street View service to take a peek inside shops and other businesses from the comfort of their own homes, various media outlets reported on Friday.

The Menlo Park, California-based company told BBC News that participation in the new service was voluntary, and that only select locations, including London, Paris, and cities in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., were eligible to take part in the test marketing.

PCMag.com reporter Chloe Albanesius notes that the American cities participating in the pilot program included Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Austin, D.C., Boston, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, and that the company planned to focus on the most searched-for businesses, including restaurants, hotels, gyms, salons and repair shops.

"Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence," an unidentified company spokesperson told the British news organization. "We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery."

Albanesius reports that businesses that wish to be photographed can apply online. Google will then hire "trusted" photographers in order to take a 360-degree picture using fish-eye and wide-angle lenses as well as still photos.

Google will own the rights to all pictures that they take. Companies can request that a photo be removed if they do not like it, and they can also submit their own picture (subject to approval by Google, of course) through Google Places.

"We're seeing renewed interest in the past few days because as promised, as more of the imagery becomes available, we're getting more of it online," a Google spokeswoman told PCMag.com on Friday.

"Retail is always a competitive sector, but this is particularly true at a time of falling disposable incomes," Sarah Cordey, spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium, a trade organization for the UK-based retail industry, told BBC News. "Many retailers are increasing their online presence and use of technological innovations, so this is a development some businesses will no doubt consider with interest."


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