Google has just moved its street level mapping from outdoors to indoors, and that too inside shops and businesses. Using the cameras from the street view project, Google will now take street-level photos of commercial establishments and places by taking street view indoors.
What Has Happened?
Google has launched a new program for the businesses on Google Places. The business owners are now allowed to add interior imagery to their Google Place page. In other words, this new Business Photos program will let Google users inside the shops and businesses and will give them a 360 degree view of the establishment. It will be like a virtual tour that the users will take of the business.
As Google has been quoted, “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. We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery.”
How It Will Work?
The new program is an opt-in service, where Google will take their 360-degree photography inside businesses who have applied for the program. The commercial establishments need to be listed in Google Places and then the search engine giant will send over verified photographers. The team of Google photographers will click pictures of restaurants, hotels, shops, gyms, salons and whatever else you may think of. These will then be uploaded to provide the users with a virtual tour of the business. In the case show owners desire, they can upload their own photos to Places listings.
What About Privacy?
Google has clarified that the Street view indoors is an opt in service, and only the businesses willing for the program will be photographed. But seeing the vulnerability that remains to criminal elements, Google has come up with a solution.
As Google says, "We'll either run the 360-degree imagery through our state of the art blurring technology to blur out faces of any employees and customers who appear in the imagery or we won't publish the still photos if people are in view. Business photos capture nothing different to what a customer would see by visiting the business in real life." More such concerns and queries have been answered at the Google Places FAQ page.
However, once a business has been photographed by Google, the images become the property of Google and can be used as the company chooses. A business owner has the right to request Google to remove the images, but Google is not bound by the contract to comply with this request.
Where Will It Be Seen First?
Well, the program is seeing the light of the day in London, and will extend to other cities within the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand. An important thing to note here is that the Street View indoors program will exclude known and big-brand chains, hospitals and law firms, keeping the much required privacy in mind.
Will this program fan the Google and privacy issues again? Do leave your comments.