I know that there's value in Google's new Street View Trikes. There are, after all, a lot of incredible places to which most of us will never be able to travel and that don't abut major thoroughfares for easy Street View cataloging. It's just that Street View has been so plagued by privacy problems and other missteps that any new technologies allowing them to go off-road just seems to be asking for trouble.
On Monday, Google announced the addition of a large library of images that couldn't be collected by their Street View cars to Google Maps and Earth:
In 2009 we introduced the Trike, a modified bicycle outfitted with Street View equipment, to visit these locations, from towering castles to picturesque gardens. The Trike team has been pedaling around the world, and today we’ve added more of these unique places to Street View in Google Maps.
The Trikes, invented during Google engineers' 20% "Innovation Time" are not exactly Radio Flyers as they must accomodate a full complement of Street View equipment. However, they're compact and rugged enough to give Google images of everything from museums to college campuses. As CNET's explains, tongue firmly planted in his cheek,
hough the first trike images were posted in 2009, today saw a veritable triking rollout from many parts of the world. Yes, these lovely trikes have even started to photograph hiking trails such as the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in Rancho San Antonio. Soon, they will be driving right up your garden path so that they can take a really good shot of your kitchen. Or your nostril hair. Well, perhaps.
Hopefully this will just be one more awesome resource that Google gives us for free, ensuring that we're more likely to use Google Maps than Mapquest (and therefore hook into their burgeoning local advertising network). Of course, I'm not convinced that anything Google does with Street View will come to a good end. Too many people already have more than enough conspiracy theories about the company and its Orwellian data stores on our habits and whereabouts.
I don't happen to be one of those conspiracy theorists. I know that Google knows a whole lot about me and I've chosen to simply embrace the warm glow of all of the value-added services Google can provide for me as a result. Google, however, can't seem to keep itself out of trouble, especially when it comes to either Street View or social media. So what will be the fallout from this one? Only time will tell. For now, though, if you're like me and stuck in near-zero temperatures, would't you rather vicariously visit Legoland California? You can thank the Google Trikes for your virtual trip.