Google Maps Street View is an incredibly rich and impressive resource available to developers through the Google Maps API. Using Street View with the Maps API it is possible to create fully immersive and interactive guided tours of locations around the world.
Here are a few of my favorite guided Street View tours, created with the Google Maps API:
1. Hashima Island - The Forgotten World
In June last year Google added Street View imagery of the abandoned Japanese island of Hashima, in Nagasaki Prefecture. Hashima Island - The Forgotten World
is an amazing tour of Google's Street View imagery of the island, which
includes the historical background of the featured locations and the
The site is a great guide to the island, adding context and the
back-story to Google's amazing imagery of the island. The Street Views
in this tour have been enhanced with some CSS3 filters to create an even
spookier atmosphere, which is intensified further by the accompaniment
of some suitably spectral background music and sound. The children's
voices and school bells that play when you stand in Hashima Primary
School playground made the hairs on the back of my neck stand-up.
Hashima Island - The Forgotten World is a Chrome Experiment, so you will
have to view the site in Chrome to get the full effect.
Where Street View isn't available you can often use Photo Spheres instead. Photo Spheres are 360 degree panoramic images submitted to Google Maps by the public. I used Photo Spheres to create this short tour of Petra in Jordan.
Google has yet to capture Street View imagery of this historic city. However a few Photo Spheres of some of the important buildings in the city have been added to Google Maps. I simply used the Google Maps API to create a short guided tour of Petra using some of these uploaded panoramic photos.
Photo Spheres can be used with the Street View service of the Google Maps API by using a Photo Sphere image's PanoID. If you want to discover what Photo Spheres are available at a location Google Maps Views is a great place to explore. Views is Google's gallery of Photo Spheres added to Google Maps around the world.
An alternative to using Photo Spheres is to create your own 360 degree panoramas and use the Custom Street View service in the Google Maps API. A great example of using custom Street Views is Google Night Walk.
3. Google Night Walk
Google Night Walk
is an amazing narrated Street View tour of Marseilles at night. Google
Night Walk takes you on an immersive journey through the lively Cours
Julien neighbourhood of Marseille. The Street View tour of night-time
Marseilles includes an audio narrated guide by Julie and Christophe, two
urban storytellers, who help explain the living history of the city.
As you navigate the night-time panoramic imagery of Google Night Walk
follow the blue line in the Street View to listen to Julie and
Christophe's narrated guide. You can also deviate from the narrated
guide at anytime and explore the city under your own steam by following
the dotted paths off of the main tour.
Google Night Walk is a joint project by Google Creative Labs and 72andSunny.
The narrator, Julie Muer, is an urban storyteller who walks the streets
of Marseilles, collecting the sounds and voices of the city.
To create this guided Street View tour of Marseilles at night 72andSunny were lucky enough to have the help of Google's Street View Trekker technology. However you don't need expensive camera equipment to capture 360 degree panoramas. There are a number of online services which can help you create panoramas. Alternatively you can use free software, like Microsoft's ICE to stitch together a number of photos to create one panorama.
4. National Parks with Nature Valley Trail View
The Nature Valley Trail View is a beautiful map of trails in some of American's National Parks. The Nature Valley Trail View Street View tours are great examples of using custom shot panoramic imagery with the Google Maps API.
map includes a number of trails, each of which can be experienced with a
glorious animated custom Street View tour. If you click on the menu
link you can select any of the trails and then virtually walk the trail
with custom Street Views of the whole trail.
Each tour includes
an option to animate a walk on the trail, so you can just sit back and
watch as you walk the trail with custom Street Views.
5. South Africa with Isuzu Trail View
Thanks to Isuzu Trail View
it is now possible to take a virtual Street View drive on some of South
Africa's best off-road trails. Isuzu equipped a Isuzu KB with a 360
degree camera and captured custom Street View imagery of four off-road
Users can select any of the four trails and view the 360 degree imagery
just as they would with Google Maps Street View. Each trail includes a
handy little feature that allows users to capture a picture of any
beautiful views that are found whilst navigating a trail and then share
the image via social media.