Google Street View has a new program that will let basically anyone with a car and the right camera contribute to its image database.
The new program is called “Street View Ready” and will let photographers control special 360-degree cameras using a companion app, then upload the photos they capture directly to Google Street View through the app.
The first camera to participate in the program is the Insta360 Pro, a 360-degree ultra high-definition camera that can take photographs while mounted on a moving vehicle. The camera has recently updated its camera software to include a five-frames-per-second shooting mode specifically needed for shooting in Street View mode.
The company that makes the camera will also be releasing a USB accessory to collect GPS data on the 360-degree photos the camera takes, and bundle the information automatically with each upload. The company has not revealed the name of the accessory or when it will be available.
The Insta360 Pro is hardly a camera for the masses: It’s selling for $3,499. But if you’re pressed for cash, don’t worry. Google also created a Street View Loan Program through which it will lend 360 cameras and compatible backpacks to a select few photographers. To apply, you’ll need to describe the sites you plan on photographing, and explain why it’s important that those sites end up on Street View.
For a long time, the most rural, remote areas have been largely underrepresented on Street View. With its photography now in the hands of freelancers, we may begin to see images of locations Google itself was never able to reach.
Google’s loan application also indicates that Street View projects could lead to increased tourism for undiscovered places, and press for emerging photographers. So if you have a few thousand dollars to spare and extra time on your hands — you might be the perfect candidate to contribute to Google Street View.