Google Street View

Google’s new Street View Ready cameras will open up a new world of VR

Google Earth might make for one of the most exciting PC VR apps, but the company’s Street View app for Daydream is no slouch either, allowing you to step into 360 degree images of the world around you. The platform already offers plenty of content, but Google’s new Street View Ready cameras are set to introduce much more.

The search engine giant announced this new concept earlier this week. A total of 20 new 360 degree camera releasing this will will be branded with the Street View Ready certification that will allow for quick, painless uploading of images to Google’s world-spanning service. Why send out specialized cars to capture the world when you can get ordinary people to do it for you?

Resurrecting the Forgotten Bike Highways of 1930s Britain

Cycleway near Dorking, Surrey.
Cycleway near Dorking, Surrey. Courtesy of Carlton Reid

In the 1930s, Britain’s Ministry of Transport built an extensive network of bike highways around the country—at least 280 miles of paved, protected infrastructure dedicated to cyclists alone. For decades, it was entirely forgotten—overgrown and overlooked—so much so that no one seems to remember that these lanes had existed at all.

“There’s all this infrastructure, it’s been there for 80 years, and nobody knows what it was,” says Carlton Reid, author of the forthcoming book Bike Boom. Reid, who’s been a cycling journalist and historian for 30 years, rediscovered the network while researching his book. Now he’s teaming up with an urban planner to reveal the full extent of Britain’s historic cycleways.

Before starting research on the book, Reid knew of the existence of a handful of ‘30s-era bike lanes. But when he started studying the decade’s road-building policies, he found archival maps showing that as new arterial roads were built, they all had cycleways installed beside them. “Every one I looked at showed that there were cycleways built,” he said. “It was clear that there were far more than anyone had understood.”

A 1930s cycling sign.
A 1930s cycling sign. Courtesy of Carlton Reid

These bike highways were nine feet wide and surfaced in concrete, and they ran along major roads for miles. According to Reid’s research, the Ministry of Transport was inspired by newspaper reports of similar lanes in the Netherlands and contacted the Rijkswaterstaat, its Dutch counterpart. The head engineer of the Rijkswaterstaat sent the Brits “these incredible exploded diagrams of how they built cycleways next to the road and the railways and how they separated the traffic,” says Reid. “The Brits, in effect, were ‘going Dutch,’” decades before that phrase became a mantra among cycling enthusiasts who long for infrastructure as good as Amsterdam’s.

In the 1930s, cycling in Britain was at its peak, and cyclists far outnumbered motorists. As in America, it was British cyclists who first pushed the government to build smoothly paved roads between cities. Those roads, though, were catnip to motorists, too, and “motorists, if they wanted to use their cars and go fast … clearly had to get cyclists off the road.” These bike highways were intended in part to separate cyclists from the main rush of traffic and clear the way for drivers.

Building the...

Google’s new ‘Street View ready’ certification standard recommends which 360-degree cameras to buy

Google has announced a new “Street View ready” certification standard as it looks to encourage Joe Public to contribute to the company’s gargantuan database of real-world imagery.

The certification will be meted out to 20 new 360-degree cameras that are scheduled to hit the market in 2017. These include offerings from companies such as Samsung, GoPro, Matterport, Sphericam, and Giroptic. By applying a badge of approval to the devices the internet giant hopes to encourage both amateur and professional photographers to participate in its massive crowdsourced image collection program.

Google’s Street View cars, replete with roof-mounted 360-degree camera, have become famous sights in cities around the world, capturing everything from shop facades and monuments to parks and other public attractions. The program has long transcended its roots on the roads, however, and Google has found itself traversing the Amazon rainforest on a zipline and swimming underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, while machine learning also now enables Street View to automatically extract street names, numbers, and businesses to keep…

Google is launching 360-degree cameras built to make your own Street View

google, 360, street view

Today, Google announced it is siding with several hardware partners to deliver high-quality 360-degree cameras so you can make your own Street View images – and you can expect at least 20 ‘Street View ready’ recording devices by the end of the year.

In a new blog post, the company explained the ‘Street View ready’ certification standard will break down in four different categories. The 20 upcoming cameras will all meet at least one of the four standards to…

Google Street View can now extract street names, numbers, and businesses to keep Maps up-to-date

Google has revealed that it’s combining new deep learning smarts with Street View to make it easier to automate the process of mapping new addresses for Google Maps.

Anyone living in a town or major conurbation will likely have seen Google’s Street View cars, replete with 360-degree camera, traversing thoroughfares over the past few years to capture everything from shop facades and monuments to parks and alleyways. While the camera collects imagery of the real word to complement Google Maps, it’s also possible to extract additional information from the photos — including street numbers and names — to improve the data available in Google Maps.

However, numerous factors — such as lighting, angles, distortions, or cluttered backgrounds — can make it difficult for a machine to properly identify names and numbers.

Above: Examples of challenging signs captured by Street View

Google has dabbled with a number of methodologies over the years to help improve data captured from Street View imagery, including ReCAPTCHA, which involves human crowdsourcing to help identify the content of…