July 9, 2014
Google Street View Goes to Sea
Google‘s Street View provides a ground-level view for people and it despite the name it isn’t limited to streets. The technology launched in 2007 in a handful of cities and since that time has expanded to include the highest mountains in the world, to the famous temples of Angkor Wat, to the Taj Mahal and even to the Grand Canyon.
The Google Street View has provided a look inside the TARDIS of the time traveler/Time Lord known only as The Doctor and earlier this year let the rest of us travel through time with a new feature that provided historical images mixed with current views.
For their next trick, Google is heading out to sea with Street Views.
No, this doesn’t mean it is going to map the ocean’s floor, but rather will provide a view of the Royal Caribbean International (RCI) cruise ship Allure of the Sea. According to TechCrunch the ship was the subject for 20,000 close-ups, which allow those who aren’t ready to sail away to get a virtual tour of the ship.
This is apparently the first time that the Google Maps Business View powered by Street View has been used to showcase a cruise ship — any cruise ship.
This view of the cruise ship is reportedly part of a partnership between Google and RCI under Google’s Street View-powered Business View initiative for virtual tours. Google has promoted this as a way for businesses to “engage customers” and to enhance the “presence across Google with a premium-quality 360º virtual tour powered by Street View technology.”
This sounds like it is a step up from those 3D tours of structures that many architects and interior designers already use — and it offers a way to travel around a space from one’s computer or tablet.
The question of course is why anyone would want to experience this sort of view for a cruise ship? While the Allure of the Sea maybe something impressive –– if you’re actually into cruise ships — is there really much to see that a few photos couldn’t already provide? Does an immersing tour of the buffet or pool really make the Allure of the Sea anymore alluring for would-be cruisers?
USA Today reported that the virtual tour of the Allure of the Seas does cover numerous locations around the ship including the Central Park with its thousands of live plants, the Royal Promenade, the Boardwalk and the Sun Deck.
These locations were taken over the course of eight days, and shot with a basic DSLR camera equipped with a fisheye lens and panoramic head on a tripod.
“Consumers go online to research their vacations and this is the closest they can get to actually being onboard,” Royal Caribbean’s UK spokeswoman Jo Briody told USA Today.
According to RCI, the company has no plans to highlight other ships either, which again begs the question why to call out a ship that carries some 5,400 passengers. If anything the photos do give a sense of scale to this massive vessel but also show that it isn’t entirely easy to escape the crowds however.
Perhaps Google should consider some of its other efforts and do something truly unique — say a Street View of the Titanic or a stroll down the Roman Forum when Augustus Caesar called the place home. Now those would be Street Views I could see taking a stroll or two.
Image Credit: Royal Caribbean