Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Best Custom Street View Tours

One of the most underused features of the Google Maps JavaScript API must be Custom Street Views. The Custom Street View feature allows developers to create interactive Street View panoramas from their own imagery.

The Custom Street View feature can be used to create Street Views from 360 degree panoramic photographs, just as Street View is used on Google Maps. But the 360 degree images don't have to be photographs. For example artist Raul Moyado Sandoval has used the feature to create a series of panoramic Street View paintings.

On his website Raul discusses the possibility of creating a virtual painted world by connecting a series of these 360 degree panoramic paintings. In essence this is what has been achieved by Activision in their new marketing campaign for the new Destiny computer game.

Using 360 degree Street View panoramas, created from screenshots taken from the game, Destiny Planet View has created an interactive mapped tour of the Destiny game world.

The Google Custom Street View feature can obviously also be used with 360 degree panoramic photos. The same developers behind Destiny Street View (Google Creative Labs) have also created an amazing night time tour of Marseilles.

Google Night Walk uses custom Street View images to take you on an immersive journey through the lively Cours Julien neighbourhood of Marseille. This 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 progress through the panoramic images.

Elsewhere the custom Street View feature has been used to show the effects of political and natural disasters. For example, the Gaza War Map is a powerful visualization of the devastating effect of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. The map consists of a number of 360 degree panoramic Street Views taken in the Gaza Strip since the onset of the present conflict between Israel and Hamas.

In 2009 an earthquake in the Italian city of L'Aquila caused the death of 308 people and damaged many of the town's historically important buildings. You can take a virtual walk through L'Aquila in a custom Street View tour of this historic Italian town. Hello L'Aquila is an amazing interactive virtual tour of the city consisting of more than 400 custom shot Street View panoramas covering the entire historic city center.

Custom Street Views can also be used to create virtual tours of areas where the Google Street View car has yet to visit. For example, Isuzu Trail View has created a number of virtual Street View tours of some of South Africa's best off-road trails. In the USA the Nature Valley Trail View has created a number of Street View tours in national parks, such as in the Grand Canyon, in Yellowstone National Park and in the Great Smokies.

Toyota has also used the custom Street View feature to create an interesting campaign to promote the Toyota IQ. During the campaign Toyota allowed anyone in Belgium to report a street that doesn't have Street View on the Toyota IQ - Street View Google Map. The Toyota IQ then traveled to the submitted streets, captured the custom Street View images and added them to their own Street View map of Belgium.
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