Google Street View, which offers street-level imagery of towns and cities around the world, is one of those innovations that we now take for granted, but we really shouldn't. It's easy to forget how innovative the effort is, and what a large-scale mission Google has undertaken in attempting to map the whole world. The technology exists for us all to create our own 360-degree panoramic vistas of the places around us, and DIY streetview is a kit containing everything one needs to get started.
The DIY streetview camera system is the work of German company Streetview Technology led by Jan Martin Mantkowski. It comprises of a DIY streetview camera with six sensors, a 12-volt battery, a remote control unit to operate the camera, and a set of SD cards on which the images are saved to. There's also = a small server running Ubuntu that processes the images using pre-installed software and custom player software allowing the user to post the images to the Web. A car mount and backpack are available as optional extras.
The all-important camera is capable of shooting panoramic pictures a full 360-degrees horizontally and 160 degrees vertically from the ground up, every three seconds. The company claims this gives 90 percent coverage and a smaller nadir (blind spot) than Google's own system. The images, once stitched together, contain 30-megapixels and are 7500 x 3750 pixels in proportion. The camera also has a built-in GPS receiver that records the position of each set of images and the direction the camera is facing at the time. The image processing software automatically geotags each panorama with all relevant information.
So far, so good, but how much is this system going to cost to own? Unfortunately Streetview Technology isn't offering a single price for all, with potential customers required to contact the company directly for a quote. What's clear is that this isn't a product designed for the mass-market, though I suspect that were it affordable enough a great many people would love the opportunity to own one. Street View photography is a compelling technological achievement that is now an option open to more than just Google.