As Google keeps collecting 360-degree Street View, panoramic photos of the world’s roadways, bike paths, and park trails, most of us are becoming accustomed to calling them up on Google Maps. Microosft and even MapQuest now have street-level photos. Now that we’ve mastered placing stitched-together panoramic photos on a map, the next step is obviously to go to video.
Europe seems to be ahead of the U.S. in this regard. I’ve already written about yellowBird in the Netherlands. Now, GlobalVision drove a Citroen equipped with 360-degree video cameras around Switzerland and put up a demo site called VideoStreetView to show off the experience. (They’ll have to be careful, though, the Swiss are particularly sensitive when it comes to public images on maps).
The VideoStreetView site shows a map on the right and the video view on the left. Red lines on the map indicate which routes have accompanying video footage. You pick a starting point and an end point and then the video starts playing, showing you what’s along the route. But just like a 360-degree photo, you can swivel the view in any direction and the video continues to play from that angle.
Below the video and map, there is a street listing on the bottom left and points of interest on the right. These are clickable, and the points of interest could easily contain businesses which might pay for placement. The site takes a little getting used to and the UI is a bit clunky, but it shows what is possible with 360-degree video maps. The technology works. The user interface just needs to be simplified so that people can jump right in without wondering what to do. But seeing the technology actually work makes you wonder how long it can be before we see video street views in Google Maps.