Google Street View Trekker Hits Hawaii

The popular Google Maps service has a simple goal – to make the perfect map. With views from space to views on the street level to views underwater, you gotta be passionate, dedicated, and just a little bit crazy to get the “perfect map.” And that’s what the team at Google Maps is, a little bit crazy (crazy good, not crazy bad). From a car to a trike to a trolley to a snowmobile and now a wearable backpack version of the Street View Trekker, their passion for the perfect map is crazy.

Partnering with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), Google launched its third party Street View Trekker program. If your organization has amazing visual stories to tell, you can now apply to borrow a Trekker to capture your geographic stories. For the Hawaiian islands, the Big Island will be first to get mapped by Hawaii Forest & Trail whose focus is on popular Hawaii trails.

So what’s the Google Street View Trekker like? Well, it’s like this.

Google Street View Trekker
Google Street View Trekker

The backpack version is about 40 pounds heavy (with the batteries) holding a ruggedized rig of 15 cameras. Taking pictures every 2.5 seconds to compose a 360-degree view of the surroundings, you’d think this high tech gear is fragile. Not in the least. Constructed to take a fall, this rig is tough and is designed to be exposed to the elements. It raises your profile about 18 inches and along with its weight, your body’s center of mass is significantly altered. You have to be a little bit crazy to take this on a hike! I felt like I’d topple over with every turn, and you can’t lean over otherwise you’d surely topple over. A strong back and strong legs are definitely recommended.

How much does this backpack Trekker cost? A million dollars? Probably not. Buku bucks? For sure, and Google is letting you borrow it. Supposedly it has no comms although I find that highly unlikely since Google has the ability to remotely update and troubleshoot the packs. Images are stored on media cards which are then sent back to Google for processing. The cleaning and stitching of all the images could takes months before they’re live on Street View.

Street View collections recorded with this Trekker should be available in September and who knows, soon enough you may see this Trekker pack roaming the scenery of Oahu.

More pictures from today’s announcement.

Thanks to Nathan Kam for this invitation.