Photographer and Video Producer

Map your world with photo spheres

Google Maps Views doesn’t roll off the tongue, but this recent additional to Google’s vast array of digital fancy things is one of my favourite things. At face value it allows you to add 360-degree imagery to Google Maps, a DIY street view.

However, Views, much like the now defunct Tourwrist also lets you link 360 images together to create a tour. The example below allows you to tour Rochdale’s new fire station. Simply click on the arrows to move into the building, at certain points you’ll have the choice to pick a route akin to those 80s fantasy books.

Views: Outside Rochdale's New Fire Station by Alex Flahive

To create the above I used Microsoft’s Photosynth App to stitch together a image capturing everything around, below and above me. This creates something looking like this

The next step is to upload this image to Google+, which will kindly recognise the image as a “sphere” and will wrap the image accordingly. At this point you can bask in the mini-virtual world you have created or to ramp it up to the max – visit Google Maps Views and start to tinker by connecting several images together and placing them on Google Maps directly.

I mentioned earlier Photosynth, Microsoft’s awesome world capturing app. Although you can’t directly place these images onto a map via the app, you can upload them to a active online platform which works in the same way as Flickr does. Once you’ve done this, you can also embed the images onto a website.

The original photo-sphere/360 imaging website was Tourwrist, this has now reincarnated as Sphere. This App/website also allows you to create virtual images, but it adds a very small but wicked feature – movement. On a computer it works in the same way as Photosynth and Google, but on a mobile device it moves when you move. Add a dark room, some SFX and a little imagination Sphere becomes an immersive app.

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