Google has launched a brand new feature named photo tours on their Maps platform.
These photo tours are available for popular tourist destinations around the world and are powered by user contributed photos.
Google is using a technology similar to Microsoft Photosynth for these 3D tours. Multiple photos are combined together to form a 3D like tour. The experience is not very smooth though is likely to get better as more photos are added to the database.
Google spoke about the tech powering this platform:
To produce these photo tours, we use advanced computer vision techniques to create a 3D experience from public, user-contributed Picasa and Panoramio photos. We start by finding clusters of overlapping photos around major landmarks. From the photos, our system derives the 3D shape of each landmark and computes the location and orientation of each photo. Google Maps then selects a path through the best images, and adds 3D transitions to seamlessly guide you from photo to photo as if you’re literally flying around the landmark and viewing it from different perspectives.
Google is properly attributing the photos used in this project. And they are asking web users to make their relevant photos public so that they can also be used in these tours. These photos are picked from their Picasa and Panoramio databases.