Feeds

Google adds a sense of history to Street View with archive footage

Visual 'Wayback Machine' covers 2007 to the present

Security for virtualized datacentres

Google is adding historical images to its Street View image library so that users can step backwards and forwards through time and track development from when the Chocolate Factory cameras cars last rolled by.

"If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance," wrote Vinay Shet, Google Street View manager, in a blog post.

"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 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.

Some of the images in the archive actually date from well before 2007. Google released Street View on May 25, 2007, but its spymobiles had been crisscrossing the highways of the US for some time before that to gather the initial images. Europe started 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 catalog 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. It turns out that some people get really touchy when they are photographed. The Chocolate Factory got hit with lawsuits almost immediately after launching Street View, and it had a major kerfuffle 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 slurped up – 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. But bad feelings remain, and some of Google's Street View cars have been vandalized as a result.

That's not to say Street View hasn't provided some chuckles, too. There have been some memorably bizarre scenes captured for posterity, ranging from the embarrassing to the superhuman. Street View drivers are usually hired on a contract basis and are sworn to secrecy about their routes, but it's obvious a few people are getting forewarned.

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.