Today I had to look up an address in San Francisco on Google Maps and I was impressed with the expanded street view—the resolution seems to be significantly higher than before and the navigation options are better as well.
For the fun of it, I looked up my own address and I was floored by the seamless coverage of our neighborhood (mind you, we live in a town of 60,000, not a major city). Since Google uses cars with special panoramic cameras to capture street-level views, they get photos that have a movie set quality to them. Our house looks like a toy structure you should be able to move around with the nudge of a finger!
I love how Google Maps lets you zoom in…
…to the point where you get a slightly elevated view of your landscaping. I would never be able to take photos like these without mounting my camera to an 8 ft. pole.
You can also pan the view to see your house from different perspectives.
And you can move on down the street and look back at your house.
Since we live on a corner lot, I was able to zip around the corner and look at the other side of our property. The Pittosporum tobira hedge needed trimming then, and it needs trimming now :-).
Some intriguing technical information from Wikipedia:
Google Street View displays panoramas of stitched images taken from a fleet of specially adapted cars. Areas not accessible by car, like pedestrian areas, narrow streets, alleys and ski resorts, are sometimes covered by Google Trikes (tricycles) or snowmobiles. On each of these vehicles there are nine directional cameras for 360° views at a height of about 8.2 feet, or 2.5 meters, GPS units for positioning and three laser range scanners from Sick AG for the measuring of up to 50 meters 180° in the front of the vehicle. These are used for recording a rough 3D model of the surroundings, enabling faux-3D transitions between distinct panoramas where the environment images are momentarily mapped onto this 3D model while being crossfaded to create an animated perspective change as the user travels from one panorama to another. There are also 3G/GSM/Wi-Fi antennas for scanning 3G/GSM and Wi-Fi hotspots. More recently, high quality images have been based on open source hardware cameras from Elphel.
The computing and storage power needed to stitch together countless high-resolution images into the seamless experience offered on Google Maps is mind-boggling.
To see what your own house looks like on Google Maps, go to https://www.google.com/maps/, enter your address and then click Street View.
According to Google Maps captions, the photos of our house were taken in May 2012. I was surprised because the bamboos look so much smaller than they are today. In any case, it’s neat having these “historical” photos because our landscaping has changed quite a bit since then.