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Google gets cameras Street View 'ready'

The tech giant is working with camera makers to create new devices that will help normal people like you and me contribute to Street View.

Google is giving Street View contributors choices when taking 360-degree images.

Google wants to make it easier for you to contribute 360-degree imagery to Google Maps.

How? Well, I spoke with Charles Armstrong, a project manager at the tech giant's Street View program, which sends cameras around the world to capture images of what the world looks like from a -- you guessed it -- street-level view.

Google's begun working with manufacturers and app developers on a new line of cameras, he said. The news of this "ready" hardware is being announced this week during a Street View Summit in Tokyo.

These 20 Google-certified "ready" cameras come from makers including Samsung, GoPro and Giroptic, will be out by the end of the year, Armstrong repeatedly said.The compatible products are supposed to help create high-quality images that will no longer eat up a lot of time to publish whether contributors take them while walking, running or riding, he said.

For the uninitiated, Street View is Google's decade-old popular navigation service using cameras on cars, bikes, boats and others to capture panoramic views of streets and locales in more than 3,000 cities around the world. The company also asks the public to help provide these images for Google Maps, which has more than a billion users.

"Street View has always been about giving people a chance to relive an experience they had," Armstrong said. "For our contributors, that's really important. They're enthusiastic about the adventures they've been on and want to share it in the fastest and most intimate way possible."

Armstrong said Google is investing in four different categories with camera makers. For example, "mobile-ready" 360-degree cameras by the likes of Giroptic and KenXen can upload and publish images to Google's Street View project directly from a mobile app on a phone, without needing a computer.

So whether you're using a Giroptic IO, a dongle that plugs into an iPhone, or if you're connected to the 360Fly, a single lens camera that captures Street View, you can shoot, preview and publish all on the same device, Armstrong said.

"If you're inspired about the Farmers' Market you're navigating, why not just hold your device out and walk through not worry about, 'Aww, I've got to go back to my computer and process this,' because you're likely not to do it. But if it's as easy as publish right there, you start to bring people into the moment with you."

Armstrong hopes that as 360 cameras are becoming more a part of the mainstream, the goal will be to tell better stories and give Street View users an improved sense of place and time.

"That's going to open up whole new opportunities for sharing," he said. "360 is more than about a wider sphere of view, it's about spatial navigation. That's where we think Street View will be different from anything that's out there."

Time will tell.

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