Google goes indoors for Street View extension

Google's Street View service is heading indoors, collecting images of businesses and other public spaces, in a further bid to 'map the world'.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Google, in a bid to map the world even further, is bringing indoor business photos to its popular Street View service.

The search giant will allow users to view businesses, from shops to restaurants and other buildings, to show off their interiors through the platform's next-generation extension.

With London as one of the pilot cities for the new service, other locations will include cities in Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

(Source: Google)

Getting the go-ahead from countries with strict data protection laws, such as Germany, will be difficult. Google says that the new scheme was "on a completely voluntary basis", said a company spokesperson. "We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high quality imagery", a spokesperson said.

Google will initially invite business with high search hits to participate as part of the new scheme to be visited by the company's photographers.

Currently, only a handful of businesses had had their interiors images, such as the above-pictured Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, TN. Google would not say how many businesses in London have already signed up for the service, or when the images would go live.

The company has said that it will exclude certain "big-brand chains", as the BBC reports, including hospital sand lawyers' offices.

Businesses in question will be able to submit their own images, but all images taken by Google will belong to the California-based company, allowing the company to use the images for other applications.

Google Maps still remains one of the company's most popular products, behind its web search and its Gmail free email service. Google Maps launched in February 2005, and Street View in 2007.

The service has not gone by without controversy, however.

The UK's data protection agency, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) told Google earlier this year that it must "improve its privacy policies", after Street View cars inadvertently collected unencrypted data packets from home and business wireless networks.

Germany has been highly critical of Google's imaging service, with its government insisting on an opt-out service. The Czech Republic flat-out banned the service from operating within the country. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its inquiry into wireless data packet collection, late last year.


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