Google Maps ‘Photo Tours’ Brings You Around 15,000 Popular Landmarks

Google keeps making improvements to its Maps feature, little additions here and there designed to make the experience more immersive for the user. Today, they’ve added another new feature to their product with the introduction of Photo Tours, which allows you to take tours of more than 15,000 famous and scenic landmarks around the world.

Using advanced computer vision techniques, the tours create a 3D experience from public, user-contributed Picasa and Panaromio photos. By finding clusters of overlapping photos around major landmarks, the system derives the 3D shape of each landmark and computes the location and orientation of each photo.

Google Maps then selects the best path through the best images and adds 3D transitions to guide you from photo to photo so that you’re viewing it from different perspectives. The more photos of a particular landmark that are shared, the better the tours get as there will be extra angles to view and choose from.

The landmarks available to view include the Colosseum, St Mark’s Basilica in Italy and Half Dome (a mountain range) in Yosemite National Park. You can access the tours in two ways, the first is by searching for a place. On the left hand side, you will see if there’s a photo tour available to take or not, where you can click the thumbnail image or the link to start the tour. The second option is if you’re browsing a map and click on the label for a particular landmark, the info window that appears will tell you whether a photo tour is available or not.

You can find a list of available landmarks to view here although photo tours requires Google Maps with WebGL to work. However, viewing the tours is a smooth and impressive experience and if more people contribue photos of current and additional landmarks, then it’s a feature that could certainly expand and improve as time goes by.

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