Blog Post

Google Maps Goes Streetside

Update: Google launched a street view mapping feature for several cities this morning at the Where 2.0 conference, and GigaTeam is pretty excited about checking out the views around our own San Francisco digs. We just chatted with John Hanke, Google’s Director of Google Earth and Google Maps, after his presentation at the conference and he had some interesting details to add.

He said while Google is using a partnership with Immersive Media to create the street level mapping service, Google has also been driving its own cars around the Bay Area and collecting the street level views here. Hanke wouldn’t go into too many details around the vehicles themselves, but if anyone sees any Google-mobiles with high tech photo gear around the Bay, snap a pic and send us the photo.

Google’s Street Views is part of the company’s broader attempts to create a richer experience for its geoweb services, and follows the launch of its My Maps map mashup tool in April. One part of that richer experience could be video, Hanke tells us, though he says the company has nothing yet to announce for google maps and video. Hanke points out that right now My Maps users can embed YouTube clips.

Google also announced ‘mapplets’ for Google Maps today, which is basically widgets that can be displayed on Google Maps the way gadgets are displayed on iGoogle. At the same time the Mercury News says that Google has licensed the sensing technology developed by the Stanford students behind Stanley the robotic car. Hanke says that the Stanford students are now Google employees.

Google’s push for richer geoweb services is partly being driven by Microsoft’s attention to the space. Microsoft has been working on street views since last year and is announcing its 3D maps for cities like New York today.

Both companies are fighting for users now that web-based location data is getting more and more mainstream attention. Hanke said in his morning speech that more attention means three things for Google, as well as the rest of the industry:

  • 1). There will be aggressive investments in the base map and the applications on top of it, from Google and others.
  • 2). This is a broader endorsement of the large economic opportunity in this space, with location-enabled ads being of particular interest to Google.
  • 3) Expect more M&A – both John Hanke (from Keyhole) and Bernhard Seefeld (from Endoxon) and now Geo Software engineer Google joined the company after their startups were acquired.

Liz wrote the morning post

Wow, this is way cool. Google Maps for San Francisco Bay Area, and cities such as Las Vegas, and New York now have streetside views, with photographs of buildings stitched together in Flash so you can virtually walk down the street. Look for the “Street View” option next to traffic, map, satellite, and hybrid in the upper right corner.


Microsoft already has a similar “bird’s eye” tool in its maps, with much broader coverage, as it’s bought an exclusive relationship with Pictometry for extensive sets of aerial photographs that are stitched together. Google, on the other hand, has partnered with Immersive Media.

As Brady Forrest puts it at O’Reilly Radar, “This is not just a static, A9-style image.” He points to a post by Greg Sadetsky with more technical details. [digg=]

22 Responses to “Google Maps Goes Streetside”

  1. SassyLou

    You can access Street Views when in the general Map area..When you go to “MY MAPS”…Street View is not available…unless someone knows a “trick” to get that on MY MAPS?

  2. chris

    As I was checking this out and noticed that my car was frot and center of the street view photo of my house, I started thinking….. How long before we see ad plastered trucks trying to get caught by the street cams.

  3. joviju

    What a cool feature!!!!! I can’t wait until its up and running. I love Google maps to begin with. What an idea! especially when you need landmarks to help you figure something out!

  4. Not that cool – requires Adobe Flash player 9. Google engineers gotten lazy and have probably abandoned the plain web technologies and AJAX.

    Is the lazyness all across google or just at google maps?

  5. I wonder about the legal issues. I checked it out, and yeah it’s really cool and all, but I notice the car in the picture right away. The license plate was easily readable.

    I know television and film may not show people’s license plates without a signed release, I assume the same law applies to Google’s “Street View”

  6. As i could see on my neighborhood (Miami Beach) The pictures where taken about 3 months ago (based on some municipal time specific ads hanging in some streets)…. I wonder if this will be updated every other year, or months?

  7. Liz:

    Based on your earlier story, thought you might want some background: This morning at Where 2.0 in San Jose, Google announced Street Level maps utilizing a 360 degree view of local streets (so you can “fly from satellite to street level) using immersive 360 degree video from Immersive Media.

    It’s really going to change the way we look at online mapping – imagine getting directions, then stopping halfway through to zoom down and look at a 360 degree view of the street to find a restaurant, or a mall, or a gas station. Think of the advertising possibilities alone, let alone gaming, real estate, or just driving to Grandma’s house and knowing what the bathrooms look like.

    Happy to give you more information if you’d like it. You can check out currently “street mapped” cities here: