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Google Street View Backpack Now Available To Volunteers 108

Posted by timothy
from the salt-mines-of-poland dept.
It's not just for obscure Japanese islands anymore: reader NobleSavage writes with news that "If you're a tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization or other third party who can gain access and help collect imagery of hard to reach places, you can apply to borrow the Trekker and help map the world." You can also help map the world (albeit without the very neat Trekker backpack cam) without an application process via OpenStreetMap. But if you had access to a panoramic camera like this, what places or spaces would you want to capture? I hope there will be street view imagery of Petra, but I don't see any yet.
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Google Street View Backpack Now Available To Volunteers

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  • Uhmm.. Chernobyl? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hemi Rodner (570284) * on Sunday June 30, 2013 @01:38PM (#44148131) Journal

    I want to see Chernobyl please.

  • Pitcairn Islands (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dwheeler (321049) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @01:50PM (#44148189) Homepage Journal
    I want to see the Pitcairn Islands. It's notorious hard to get to, and it ensures that the sun never sets on the British empire [xkcd.com].
  • by t4ng* (1092951) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @02:08PM (#44148269)
    I just saw the Google van going down my private road this morning at least a half mile beyond a big sign that says PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESPASSING. This county allows for people to meet trespassers with deadly force. I hope that point that out to anyone using Trekker.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 30, 2013 @02:27PM (#44148371)
      You shoot someone just because they are on your property and you'll end up in jail faster than you think. Most states have defense laws against aggressive behavior but if you shoot someone who accidentally wanders into your property and your looking at charges. You have a right to defend yourself and your property not just kill someone because they touched your land.
    • This county allows for people to meet trespassers with deadly force.

      What county is that? I know of no jurisdiction anywhere that allows deadly force against non-forcible trespassing. Some jurisdictions allow you to shoot someone that breaks into an occupied residence, but not for just driving past a sign.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Jan Mayen would be fun to explore in Google Maps.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @02:36PM (#44148411)

    The Trekker is operated by an Android device and consists of 15 lenses angled in a different direction so the images can be stitched together into 360-degree panoramic views.

    That's quite neat, but if you want something simpler, wouldn't it be possible to use a single, vertically oriented digital camera with a hyperboloid mirror in front of it, and process the stuff in a computer? The optical system would be axially symmetrical, so the angle in the picture would correspond to the azimuth, and the distance from the center would be a useful function of the elevation (I believe that with the hyperboloid, it should be linear.) You wouldn't get any sort of insanely high resolution in the azimuth but it should still be usable (and much more lightweight, simpler and cheaper).

    • by hankwang (413283)

      "to use a single, vertically oriented digital camera with a hyperboloid mirror in front of it,"

      Assuming that you mean a camera with a lens looking into the hyperboloid reflector: that would not work because such a mirror would not produce a real or virtual image plane onto which the camera could focus. Parabolic or hyperbolic reflectors can only image a point to another (virtual) point, not a plane to a plane.

      In other words, you get a blurry image; in order to unblur, you would need to know the angular dist

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We've done exactly this with a (200mm diameter and 200mm curve depth) mirror and a USB camera. It works just fine. However, the mirror is large and awkward and, depending on whether the camera is pointing up or down, either the top or the bottom of the panorama is relatively low resolution. You also need pretty high precision in the mirror and it's position if you want to do accurate pixel mapping.

      USB cameras are so small and cheap these days that for most panorama applications I think multiple cameras are

  • by darkain (749283) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @02:44PM (#44148455) Homepage

    A little something right here at home, I would love to take this thing hiking through the trails of the Olympic National Forest. Or really, any of the awesome mountains in the Washington area, like Mt Rainier!

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @02:48PM (#44148479)

    So essentially Google want people to give some of their time for free in addition of taking ownership of the work they'd be doing?
    I doubt volunteers want to give the IP of their work to Google so that they can monetize it.

    • One question: how much are they going to pay me?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      People do it all the time. Like Linux. Making drivers for "free" that manufacturers can then bundle with their hardware, and things like that.

      Why do you hate Linux?
      • by richlv (778496) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @03:23PM (#44148639)

        this is quite different. the result is free for anybody to use, bundle, improve upon. data somebody would be contributing to gmaps stays there - you can not obtain whole google maps data in vector format and do whatever you please with it.

        this is what openstreetmap offers :)

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          I doubt volunteers want to give the IP of their work to Google so that they can monetize it.

          That's the statement that I found to be quite errant. It's provably false today. People are doing free work on things that are "monetized" by for-profit corps. Drivers is one where yes, it's available to all, but of low use to anyone who didn't pay a for-profit corp for the hardware.

          People today are obviously quite happy to do work that benefits a closed company making profits. So I'm curious what he has seen that directly contradicts reality. Lots of people would be willing to volunteer for fun things

          • by richlv (778496)

            oh, i wasn't saying people would never contribute anything if a company could monetise it - anything could be monetised.
            i just mentioned that data, contributed to osm, is free to use for all - and that's a huge difference compared to gmaps

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @04:57PM (#44149011)

      I doubt volunteers want to give the IP of their work to Google so that they can monetize it.

      You just spent your time to write a comment on Slashdot. That comment could be considered IP. Slashdot then monetizes it through advertising revenue. Did you get paid by Slashdot? You just gave your IP to Slashdot so they can monetize it.

      The reason people will do it is that it is a way of recording the things they saw in much greater detail than ever before so they can show it to their friends. The fact that millions of other people can also see it is just a bonus.

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        This is significantly different. Slashdot does not have exclusive rights to redistribute what I write here.

        • by swillden (191260)

          This is significantly different. Slashdot does not have exclusive rights to redistribute what I write here.

          Exclusive, no, rights, yes. After all, they just redistributed it to me.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          The point is, that by commenting on Slashdot you are making money for Slashdot for no monetary compensation. You are donating your time to Slashdot who is a for profit business. That is not so different than donating one's time to Google.

          • by loufoque (1400831)

            I already pointed out the difference, and it is a major one.
            There is no problem making money with freely available information. The problem is closing it down.

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              It is not a big difference considering the small number of people who would download and use the raw data without going through StreetView.

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      So essentially Google want people to give some of their time for free in addition of taking ownership of the work they'd be doing?
      I doubt volunteers want to give the IP of their work to Google so that they can monetize it.

      Sure I do! It would be a great public benefit to get popular but remote trails on Street View. There is very little chance to monetize this. Nobody is likely to buy or click on advertising because this is added. It is public service that is also great PR, which is a great combination for google. And since this is being done through 3rd party groups, the volunteers will also be getting great PR for doing public service... from the people in the groups they're already a part of!

      If you can imagine, you're doin

      • by loufoque (1400831)

        It would be a much greater public benefit to make this public domain.
        Google owns the data and all its redistribution rights. It can choose to restrict access whenever it wants.

        • by swillden (191260)

          Google owns the data and all its redistribution rights. It can choose to restrict access whenever it wants.

          But why would it?

          • by loufoque (1400831)

            You're right, Google isn't known for shutting down services randomly.

            • by swillden (191260)

              You're right, Google isn't known for shutting down services randomly.

              Only services that don't have much usage. I submit that maps and streetview are not in that category.

  • by wheeda (520016)

    I want one for Scuba.

  • by WoLpH (699064)

    That thing looks like it's at least 20 kilo's, not a very comfortable hike I imagine. Cool that you can but I would imagine it needs a little bit of slimming down before you can conveniently take it with you.

  • The unseen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Hook some flood lights up to that sucker and take it caving.

    • One problem with that! You can't get a good GPS signal in caves. They would have to add an inertial navigation system onto it for that application, though it probably would work better than bread crumbs when done! The other problem would be squeezing and crawling through passages with it!
  • by s7uar7 (746699) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @03:20PM (#44148619) Homepage
    I started using Map Maker when it was released here in the UK a couple of months ago. I stopped when I questioned why I was giving my time, knowledge and expertise to a private company for free.
  • from http://www.elemental.org/~daleg/gargoyle/ [elemental.org]
    "
    What is the Gargoyle?

    The Gargoyle wearable computer is a project I am undertaking to study and
    improve apon current technologies and adapt them for use in a wearable computer
    application and a environment of every-day, practicle use. I am naming the
    prototype I am building "Gargoyle". This name comes from Neil Stephenson's

  • It's good to see the link to OpenStreetMap. It's not very good where I live, so I'm actually contributing instead of just bitching about it on /.
    (Yeah, just this once)

    Now that Waze has been absorbed by the Gorg, I'd love to see a Kickstarter for a no-brainier device and app (android & iOS please) to enable both navigation, OSM updates, (but make it easy, please), and the social features that Waze got pretty well right.

    C'mon somebody, I'll put a 1000 bucks down for the first two devices...for 500 each y

  • Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by proverbialcow (177020) on Sunday June 30, 2013 @03:34PM (#44148709) Journal
    How about sending along a couple of backpacks (and monetary donations) with vetted charitable aid groups (Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, etc)?
    • by guruevi (827432)

      As if they didn't have enough problems being regarded as spies for the US government. And it's not like the locals don't have any cause for worry because the US government already does it (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/11/cia-fake-vaccinations-osama-bin-ladens-dna)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sibley Volcanic Preserve in Oakland, CA on the Hayward fault.

    Fault moved half-a-mile in the last 9.5 billion years, giving Round Top Volcano a tail.

    North of the Caldecott Tunnel in Tilden Park is the Nimitz Trail (paved) along the ridgeline from Berkeley to Richmond (exits at Clark Rd in El Sobrante & Hillcrest Rd in Richmond), part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

    Turn one way and see he Golden Gate & Richmond Bridges, the other overlooks San Pablo Reservoir and the earthen San Pablo Dam.

    The trail along

  • and let people vote with their wallets, where to send guys. Area 51, Mount Everest, neighbours backyard where screams are heard, etc.
  • Being Google.... I would have expected them to have included this in Google Glass: GPS and always-on panoramic camera, and have it enabled by default, to upload street view imagery from every user everywhere....

  • One place I'd really like to document is the suicide forest in Japan. I remember seeing the documentary about it and was fascinated with the place. It is kinda freaky when I think about trekking there; as soon as the sun starts sinking, I'm getting the hell out of there.
  • I'd actually be chuffed to digitise hiking trails. There are many beautiful trails in the area where I live. I know them well and digitising them would give me a new kind od purpose. And yes, I'd need the exercise.
  • Especially the board walk. Not because it is hard to get to but because people should see it.
  • A friend involved with the project pointed out that this is more complicated than it sounds, and I'm sure he's right, but it would be fun one day to be able to take a photo, tag it with coordinates, and at least have it stuffed in an online pigeonhole for later linking to a spot on OSM-based maps. Click on a map, have it show the nearest-tagged photo ... in some places, the nearest tagged photo might be many miles away, making it a sort of challenge to split the gap by taking another photo between the dista

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