Monday, March 23, 2015

The Street View Teleportation Device

The first time I saw Teleporter my heart sank a little and I couldn't help wondering why anybody would bother creating yet another random Street View browser. Random Street View explorers already have an extensive choice of random street generators, including MapCrunchRobot Flâneur, The Secret DoorGlobe Genie and Random Street View.

However, after clicking on the big 'T' teleport button, I quickly became impressed with Teleporter's ability to find beautiful Street Views around the world. I soon began to suspect that Teleporter must have a big database of impressive Street Views and was randomly displaying Street Views from this list.

I therefore decided to have a little look at the JavaScript behind Teleporter. It turns out that Teleporter is powered by a library called gGrid. The library divides the world into a grid and then randomly selects a point on this grid and requests a nearby Street View panorama from the Google Maps API. So there is no list of beautiful Street Views.

I imagine that Teleporter is so successful at discovering attractive Street Views because much of the world is actually very beautiful. Despite mankind's attempts to find paradise and put up a parking lot, when you choose a random location on the Earth the chances are that you will pick a spot outside of major urban conurbations. The result of this is that gGrid has the uncanny knack of finding some truly beautiful Street View images from Google's extensive coverage around the world.

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