Google Adds Time Travel To Its Street View
Google is adding archived images to its Street View image library, so that users can step back in time and track developments on our roads from as far back as 2007.
Vinay Shet, Google Street View manager, said in a blog post: “If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance.
“Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We’ve gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.”
Desktop users will now see a clock icon in the top left corner of the Street View screen as the archive tool is rolled out. Clicking it gives a scrolling timeline of what imagery Google has to hand from the Street View archive.
However, some of the images in the archive actually date from well before 2007. Google released Street View on May 25, 2007, but its street cameras had been crisscrossing the highways of the United States for some time before that to gather the initial images. Europe began getting mapped a year later, and Google cars have now been on the roads of over 50 countries taking street-life snapshots.
Google has also been moving Street View cameras onto bicycles and backpacks to catalogue parts of the world inaccessible to the automobile, such as inside the Large Hadron Collider or a British Navy submarine.
But there have been plenty of stumbles along the way. Google got hit with lawsuits almost immediately after launching Street View, and it had a major dispute with the EU that prompted it to blur out human faces.
There was also the infamous collection of Wi-Fi data that Google’s cars collected – accidentally, according to the company’s explanation. Google paid a few minor fines and deleted the data, although it’s still appealing its US settlement.
Google has said it will be rolling out the “time travel” service shortly, which history suggests will mean a limited release in the US while server loads and last minute bugs are ironed out, then gradual worldwide access.