Google Street View isn't so 'street' these days: get a 360-degree view of how businesses look inside...
Searching for somewhere to eat that doesn't resemble a work canteen or looking for a quaint shop jam-packed with interesting finds? Shoppers can now take a peek inside the premises of companies without leaving their computer.
Google's photographers, using Street View technology, have been snapping the shops, restaurants and other businesses that have signed up to Google Business Photos to allow customers a 360-degree inside view of the sites.
The panoramic snaps will soon appear on the Place page of the businesses taking part, according to a Google blog published last week.
"The photos may include the storefront, decor, layout, merchandise, food, signage about hours and accepted payment types, and other items that help people learn more about a business and decide if they want to go there," wrote Gadi Royz, product manager at Google, in the blog post.
Organisations that are part of the scheme are also able to add their own images to their Places page.
The project is currently in a pilot phase, according to Google, covering businesses across selected cities in Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Not all businesses that apply for the Street View photo shoot are accepted. In particular, Google is looking to feature businesses that are frequently searched for including gyms, restaurants, hotels, shops, salons and other businesses with a shop front.
Medical, legal and big-brand establishments are not yet included in the scheme.
The Street View service has not been without controversy over privacy concerns and businesses have been told to warn customers when a Street View photo shoot is due to take place.
Google notes in the Business Photos FAQs that it will blur out the faces of employees and customers who appear in the photographs and will not allow still photographs uploaded by the business that include people.
The Business Photos project follows on from Google's foray into art galleries with the Google Art Project.