June 28, 2013
Google Loans Trekker Backpacks To Global Adventurers
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Google announced their Street View Trekkers last year in the midst of their maps war with Apple. The backpack devices are packed with cameras and other equipment and are worn by hikers to generate Street View maps of the natural world just as Google's cars map out the roads. Now the company is loaning these backpacks out to adventurers who want to document and build out a 360 degree map of an area important to them. The company has already partnered with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) to get the program started.
The Trekker has been used before to capture images of the Grand Canyon National Park and now areas in Hawaii. Google will now give other organizations an opportunity to use these high-tech backpacks to capture images from other parts of the world. In a Lat-Long blog, Deanna Yick says the new program will be open to non-profit organizations, tourism boards, researchers and universities. Google will allow only a "limited number" of organizations to take part in this program and is currently accepting applications.
The Street View Trekkers pack a spherical array of 15 cameras on top of a backpack to constantly capture a 360 degree panoramic image of the world around the hiker. A GPS device, hard drive and batteries complete the package, making the Trekker a completely mobile data capturing tool. In their Lat-Long blog, Google tells of their partnership with the HVCB.
"Just a few days ago, our team arrived in Hawaii, the Big Island, to train our HVCB partners on how to operate the Trekker technology. Relying on HVCB's expertise, we worked together to choose the locations where they'll collect panoramic imagery, including trails through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Loa Observatory, Onomea Bay, Akaka Falls, Waipio Valley, Pololu Valley and more," writes Deanna Yick, the Street View program manager.
The images taken with the Trekker will then be stitched together and uploaded to Google's servers to allow people from all over the world to take a virtual stroll through some of Hawaii's most notable locations and even some remote areas as well.
The search company has shown interest in cataloging many remote and interesting areas of the world, including natural wonders, historic sites and even palaces and gardens. The World Wonders Project offers panoramic tours of the Great Barrier Reef, portions of the Swiss Alps, Stonehenge, and Nijo Castle in Ancient Kyoto.
This March, Google took armchair adventurers to the top of Mount Everest and the rest of the Seven Summits, including peaks in Africa, Europe and South America. Though these peaks can be explored through Google's Street View selections, the expedition teams used other equipment to capture the images instead of the new Trekker backpacks.