Whilst you are probably familiar with the traditional way that Google collects images for their popular Maps function, Street View, they have brought one of their little known inventions to Australia. Known as “Trekker”, this contraption is mounted on a backpack and allows the user to collect imagery of places that are only accessible by foot.
“Trekker” is said to look like something from outer space and is comprised of 15 cameras that are five megapixels each and capture images every 2.5 seconds. The backpack weighs about 18 kilograms and its cameras are mounted about 60cms above the head of the user. Its compact size allows the user to trek to places that a car couldn’t possibly enter.
Last Tuesday, a Google employee was spotted capturing scenes along the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney. There are currently two Trekker devices in the city and they will be used to capture some famous icons. The collected imagery will be integrated into Street View later this year, but first the pictures have to go through special software that ‘stitches’ them together and blurs peoples’ faces.
Shane Treeves, a Google Australia spokesman, said that “we’re starting in Sydney and then looking to go across Australia…hopefully it [will] encourage more people to jump on a plane and see [the locations] in person.” He also said that they hope to allow groups (like tourism boards, non-profit organisations and universities) to borrow Trekker in the future.
The Google Maps Street View feature was launched in 2007 using cars to capture imagery. They have since expanded from five US cities to more than 3000 across 43 countries (including many in Australia). Google have also expanded their collection methods to include cameras mounted on tricycles, snowmobiles, trolleys, underwater scooters, backpacks and even boats.
We can only wonder at the famous icons that Google teams and volunteers will choose to cover in Australia.