Google Street View, a taste of the metaverse?

Imagined by the co-founder of Google, Larry Page, Street View, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, seems tailor-made to adapt to the metaverse and augmented reality.

The metaverse has become a central issue in tech lately, with companies like Meta, the parent company of Facebook, investing billions of dollars to create digital universes where avatars can work, play and shop. Google Street View, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, seems tailor-made to adapt to it.

However, virtual and immersive worlds were not relevant when this tool was launched, which allows users of the Google Maps mapping service to move along a street, road or path via a panoramic view.

Larry Page took a camera and hung it in his car window“, tells AFP Steven Silverman, technical program manager at Google, pointing to the garage where the Californian group manufactures cameras for cars, bicycles, backpacks and even snowmobiles that take 360 ​​° photos around the world. .

He [Page, ndlr] chatted with his colleagues at the time and said, “I bet I can do something with it. This is how Street View was born“, recalls Mr. Silverman.

Google recently announced an immersive mode that combines Street View imagery with artificial intelligence to create “a rich digital replica of the world“explained in a blog post Miriam Daniel, vice president of Google Maps Experiences.

Users will be able to explore places of interest (monuments, districts, restaurants) by flying over them like a drone thanks to 3D aerial views. The feature will roll out this year for the cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, and London.

You can take a virtual flight over Westminster to see the neighborhood up close and the stunning architecture of places like Big Ben“, described Ms. Daniel.

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Google Street View

Google Street View

Google Street View is a free application available on Android and iOS that allows you to see most places in the world in virtual reality

  • Downloads:
  • Release date :
  • Author :
    Google Inc.
  • Licence :
    Free license
  • Categories:


  • Operating system :

    Android, iOS iPhone / iPad

Google cameras have taken photos in more than 100 countries and territories, capturing places such as Mount Fuji, Grand Canyon National Park, the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

If you want to know what it’s like to go down a ski slope, imagine where this snowmobile went“, explains Mr. Silverman, pointing to a burgundy vehicle stored in a garage in the city of Mountain View in Silicon Valley (California).

This tricycle is really funny because it went around Stonehenge and we also put it on a barge that went down the Amazon“, he continues.

Mr. Silverman also shows off a backpack camera set that was mounted on a zipline in the Amazon rainforest to get a bird’s-eye view.

The panoramic photos that Google has accumulated over the years could be useful in the metaverse, judge Carolina Milanesi, analyst for Creative Strategies.

The idea of ​​a digital replica of the real world is undoubtedly an area that Google will invest“, she predicts.

A catch-all term

For Mr. Silverman, Street View has provided users with a virtual experience for more than a decade, and its images naturally lend themselves to representing the world through virtual tools.

Ideally, we will be present in the metaverse, this world towards which we are heading“, he asserts.

Many other tech companies have flocked to the metaverse, a catch-all term that describes a network of virtual, immersive universes where millions of users are already present.

Facebook renamed itself Meta last year to mark this strategic turning point and developed its virtual reality platform, Horizon Worlds, available in North America as well as in France and Spain.

The Japanese giant Sony and the parent company of Lego announced last April to invest 2 billion dollars in the video game studio Epic Games, behind the blockbuster Fortniteto develop projects in the metaverse.

For its part, Street View, initially considered as “a crazy idea“by Larry Page, became a tool”instrumental in our mapping efforts by enabling visualization of the most up-to-date information about the world while laying the foundation for a more immersive and intuitive map“said Ethan Russell, product manager at Google Maps, in a recent blog post.

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