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'DIY streetview' camera lets you be Google

Camera kit from German company Streetview Technology lets you create your own Street View-style images and maps and post them to your Web site.

The world is your oyster. Streetview Technology

As Google takes Street View off-road with its new Trekker backpacks, German company Streetview Technology is taking the mapping technology in yet another new direction -- DIY terrain.

That's right, with "DIY streetview," people can create their own versions of Google's popular, unpopular, and sometimes artsy high-tech atlas.

The kit includes:

  • A camera that shoots look-all-around-you, domelike photos every three seconds and geotags them
  • A small server for processing your images (it automatically lines up and stitches together your shots, and adds the geo info)
  • Player software that enables you to post your work on your Web site and let people interact with it

Options include a car mount, or a backpack, for the camera.

The camera lets you photograph everything in sight, minus the camera itself and the car or backpack. And the software includes the same types of navigation tools and mapping info Google provides.

Streetview Technology General Manager Jan Martin Mantkowski said in an e-mail to Crave that anyone can learn how to operate the camera in a couple of hours. The image processing is a bit more complex, but there's a step-by-step manual, and a test project for practice.

As far as pricing goes, this isn't the sort of thing you'd casually buy at RadioShack. Mantkowski says the system is "for the professional with a budget" and asks that such professionals contact him directly for details, or use the online inquiry form. He also tells Crave of a more affordable "recording service" for "enthusiasts," in which Streetview Technology sends out a team with gear to create your map for you. (It's not clear how widely available that option is; again interested customers would need to contact Mantkowski directly.)

Mantkowski says potential markets for DIY streetview include "countries that will most likely not be covered by Google Street View anytime soon" and that have "reached a level that they are willing to do the job themselves." He also says that "mapping companies, surveyors, and maintenance companies from the first world are really interested to document their assets. This is all nonpublic and never will see the light."

Asked about customers so far, Mantkowski offered the following: "A mapping company from South America, a U.S. railways planning company, a company doing compliance checks for a U.S. government agency, a company so far doing aerial images in South Africa. I could tell you about the military sector, but they would probably shoot you. ;)" We didn't pursue the military angle.

Professionals with a budget aside, and judging from the way various creative types have tapped Street View, we figure it won't be too long before someone bolts one of these babies to a Roomba and starts knocking out some crazy views indeed.

The optional backpack (left) and the optional car mount.
An example of an image captured with DIY streetview, complete with curious, rubber-necking cyclist. Streetview Technology

Update, 4:15 p.m. PT: Includes additional information from Mantkowski about the target market.